Stevens Johnson Syndrome - Consumer Justice Foundation

Stevens Johnson Syndrome

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Dilantin and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Dilantin is an anticonvulsant medication which was approved by the FDA in 1953 to treat the symptoms associated with epilepsy and other seizure-related disorders. The drug was originally developed in 1939 as the first modern anti-seizure drug and has since been used as the primary method of treating grand mal and complex partial seizures. Despite the fact that the drug has become one of the most popular forms of anticonvulsant medication on the market, Dilantin has been associated with the risk of serious birth defects and major adverse side effects, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

Consumers depend upon the FDA and drug manufacturing companies to inform them of the potential dangers they expose themselves to by taking certain medications. Unfortunately, some pharmaceutical companies fail to adequately warn consumers about the harmful nature of their drugs, exposing Dilantin consumers to severe injury without their knowledge. Despite the fact that the alleged harmful nature of Dilantin has been apparent for several years, little information about the drug has been provided to the public. In fact, in 2008, the FDA added Dilantin to its list of “Potential Signs of Serious Risks,” following the FDA’s determination that Dilantin may have a potential safety issue requiring further research. Despite these dangers, the drug remains on the market.

What is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome?

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or SJS, is a severe and potentially deadly skin disease which typically results from an adverse reaction to certain medications, particularly anticonvulsant and phenytoin drugs. Individuals suffering from SJS commonly develop a red rash or blisters across the face and the rest of the body. The mucous membranes of the body can become inflamed and, in severe cases, the top layer of skin may actually peel away. In cases of SJS which are caused by a medication, use of the drug should be terminated immediately and permanently. Victims of SJS require immediate medical treatment in a hospital, and surviving patients are treated intravenously to replace lost fluids, often leaving the skin to repair itself. The chances of SJS survival depend largely on the severity of the condition and the degree of infection the victim has suffered.

Connection Between Dilantin and SJS

Because Dilantin has been on the market since 1953, some aspects of its manufacturing did not reflect the latest technological advances, according to FDA standards. Recently, the FDA required Pfizer, Dilantin’s manufacturer, to update its manufacturing process and make procedures consistent. As a direct result of this updated manufacturing method, Pfizer discontinued one form of their product, only to replace it with another. However, this new form of Dilantin, called Dilantin Capsules, contains the exact same active and inactive ingredients as the original product, namely phenytoin sodium.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is the result of an allergic reaction to a medication, infection or illness, with medication being the most common. In fact, approximately 80% of SJS cases are caused by drugs, most often anticonvulsant medications like Dilantin. Phenytoin, Dilantin’s active ingredient, has been the subject of significant analysis recently, and phenytoin therapy has been linked to life-threatening skin conditions like Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, or TEN. In some instances, Dilantin consumers will see visible manifestations of SJS reaction within only a few days of starting the anticonvulsant medication. Others may not develop noticeable signs of SJS until weeks later.

What to do About SJS Associated with Dilantin Use

The complications resulting from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome are catastrophic and potentially fatal, including respiratory failure, permanent scarring and skin damage, renal failure, blindness, and damage to internal organs. It is estimated that 7.1 per one million people suffer from SJS, and approximately five percent of SJS cases are fatal, with respiratory distress and sepsis being the most common consequences of SJS and typically the direct causes of death. Despite these dangers, Dilantin remains an extremely popular method of treating epilepsy, and phenytoin is a widely known anticonvulsant medication that is commonly used in emergency departments and hospitals throughout the United States. In fact, one out of every ten people who experience seizures in their life will be prescribed phenytoin.

Victims of Dilantin injury are not at fault and may be entitled to reimbursement for their injuries. The only way to protect your rights and stand up to a big drug company like Pfizer is to consult a Dilantin attorney to discuss the benefits of filing a defective drug lawsuit. Pfizer has been criticized for not adequately warning consumers about the harmful nature of the drug and the company may face a number of defective drug lawsuits filed by individuals who developed SJS after taking the drug. Dilantin lawyers are extremely well-versed in defective drug litigation and have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you develop a successful case against Pfizer. If you or a loved one has suffered from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and you believe Dilantin to be the cause, contact a Dilantin attorney for help collecting the compensation you deserve.

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