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More on Motrin and Stevens-Johnson syndrome

July 18, 2008 | 10:01 am

Unlike ear infections or strep throat or chicken pox, Stevens-Johnson syndrome isn't one of those conditions that most parents worry about. Until now.

The parents of a Topanga Canyon girl who went blind after taking Children's Motrin had sued Johnson & Johnson, maker of the drug, saying the packaging didn't adequately explain the possible risks. The ensuing court case, playing out this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Malibu, has drawn publicity to -- and alarm over -- the possible side effects of a drug most parents view as benign. (The main ingredient is ibuprofen.)

The family was dealt a setback yesterday, as reported in this Los Angeles Daily News story, Topanga Canyon pair loses suit blaming Motrin maker for girl's blindness, but the questions linger.

Here are side effect and reaction information on Children's Motrin from the company website and from drugs.com about the basic version of Motrin. At the top of the list of severe allergic reaction symptoms are hives, facial swelling, asthma, shock, skin reddening, rash and blisters.

Some families, of course, are well aware of the risk, but they usually learned too late. Here's the beginning of an account from the family who launched the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation: "Julie was 10 months old when she had a grand mal seizure. She was prescribed Phenobarbital to control idiopathic epilepsy. ... Julie awoke one morning with her right eye swollen shut. By that evening her left eye swelled also and the right one was now completely shut. My mother thought the baby had an allergy." The story continues from there -- and it's wrenching.

Julie is now a teenager, blind in one eye, who has launched her own kids support site, SJS Kids Support. On it, she writes: "Every night my sister and I pray for everyone that has had SJS to get better."

For basic information on the condition, also known as Lyell's syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, go to Medline Plus. The page, which includes photos, notes: "The disorder occurs primarily in children and young adults."

Here's more basic info, easily broken down into sections, from the Mayo Clinic.

And here's a blog, makeminerare, from the mother of a child with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. She writes: "I am hoping that others dealing with rare medical conditions will also relate to our daily experiences."

As for the Topanga Canyon parents, their attorney said they will appeal the decision. A spokesman for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, part of Johnson & Johnson, said this in a statement quoted in the Daily News story: "While we are sympathetic to the pain and hardships suffered by Sabrina Johnson, Children's Motrin has been proven safe and effective for treatment of minor aches and pains and fever when used as directed, and the medicine is labeled appropriately."

-- Tami Dennis

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