Causes & Legal Rights for Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS)
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a severe and potentially life-threatening disease that affects the skin and the mucous membranes of the body. A severe extension of erythema multiforme, SJS is often referred to as erythema multiforme major; SJS is also a less severe form of toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Bulbous blisters associated with SJS often burst, stripping away the skin and baring the flesh, increasing the likelihood of infection.
SJS is characterized by a number of physical symptoms, the most common of which include:
- Blistering of the skin
- Formation of skin lesions
- Difficulty breathing, eating or seeing
- Painful, rapid-spreading rashes
Stevens Johnson Syndrome can often be caused by an allergic reaction to drugs. Drugs commonly associated with SJS include:
- Antibiotics (penicillin and sulfa's)
- Pain Relievers
- Prescription pain relievers (Bextra and Daypro)
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (Motrin, Ibuprofin, Children's Motrin and Advil)
- Cocaine (recently shown to be capable of causing SJS)
In addition to being caused by an allergic reaction to drugs, SJS can also occur as a result of infections or illnesses (such as pneumonias caused by mycoplasma). Drug allergies and infections / illnesses are responsible for causing SJS 50% to 75% of the time. The remaining 25% to 50% of SJS cases are elicited from unknown causes of SJS.
A sizeable percentage of SJS cases are caused by an allergic reaction to drugs. In order for a drug to be marketed to the general public in the United States, it must endure a rigorous clinical trial process through which it is tested and retested until deemed safe for public use. Clinical trials test drugs to generate toxicity readings and document any side effects caused as a result of use. Once a drug is viewed to be safe enough for public use, it receives approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is marketed; however, the clinical trial process does not conclude with FDA approval. Many side effects can take years to develop, requiring long term patient studies to continue to monitor the drug user and any latent effects it might produce. This is typically a formality though, as drugs approved by the FDA are viewed to be safe enough for public use.
With regards to Bextra and SJS, The FDA continues to receive reports of occurrences of SJS and TEN resulting from use of the drug. It is advised that patients known to have allergic reactions to sulfa drugs avoid taking Bextra for any reason.
Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to notify physicians and patients of any / all potentially harmful side effects that can be expected. Failure to do so can result in very serious legal ramifications. If you or a loved one has contracted Stevens Johnson Syndrome or a related condition (erythema multiforme or TEN) as a result of an allergic reaction to a drug of some kind, contact an experienced attorney to get information about your eligibility for compensation. Many personal injury and wrongful death lawyers are experts in dealing with large drug companies and obtaining compensation for the victims of SJS and related conditions. Learn about your SJS legal rights.