Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil-PPC failed to convince the Pennsylvania Superior Court to overturn a $10 million verdict alleging the company’s Children’s Motrin caused a girl to develop a life threatening condition that burned her skin and caused her to go blind. McNeil argued that there was no evidence to show that the company’s failure to warn consumers of the risk of the serious allergic reaction on the drug’s safety label led to the the girl’s injuries.
Brianna Maya was 3 when her mother gave her Children’s Motrin over the course of four days to treat a fever and cough. Soon after, she developed a rash on her body and when it worsened by blistering, she was admitted to the hospital and ultimately transferred to a Texas burn unit.
There, Brianna was diagnosed with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), a severe form of Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), an allergic reaction in which the skin peels off in sheets – much like a burn – leaving the body susceptible to infection. These burns covered nearly 85 percent of Brianna’s body. For some people, including Brianna, SJS and TEN can also affect the eyes and cause severe eye damage and blindness.
In 2009, Brianna’s mother sued McNeil claiming she would have never used over-the-counter Children’s Motrin had the package stated that “blisters” could erupt on the skin and cause serious injuries. In 2010, after a nine-week trial, a jury awarded Brianna $10 million and found McNeil had failed to warn consumers of the risks associated with its drug.
McNeil appealed the decision, arguing that plaintiffs failed to show that absence of the warning led to the girl’s injuries. However, the court referred to the girl’s mother’s testimony, during which she said she would have stopped using Children’s Motrin when she first noticed the rash had the warning label instructed her to do so.