What is Phenytoin?
Phenytoin is a generic anticonvulsant medication that is used to control certain types of seizures and to treat and prevent seizures that may begin during or after surgery on the brain or nervous system. The drug works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Common brand names for phenytoin include Dilantin, Dilantin-125, and Phenytek.
What's the Problem?
Numerous drugs have been linked to SJS and TEN, and the following have shown an increased risk in larger studies: anti-seizure drugs like Phenytoin, antibacterial sulfonamides, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), allopurinol and nevirapine.
A study conducted by 15 U.S. burn centers found that over 20% of TEN cases are believed to be caused by the use of phenytoin, with deaths reported in approximately 25% of the cases.
What's the Difference Between SJS and TEN?
Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis represent opposite ends of a spectrum of disease. SJS is at the less severe end but still represents a serious medical emergency. TEN is a severe, life-threatening disorder.
SJS and TEN are differentiated by the degree of skin detachment. The medical consensus is that SJS affects less than 10% of the body surface area, whereas TEN affects over 30% of the body surface area. The term "SJS/TEN-overlap syndrome" is used to describe cases in which 10%-30% of the body surface area is detached.
- Flu-like symptoms
- High temperature
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
- Rash that usually starts on the upper body before quickly spreading to the face, arms, legs, and other areas of the body, such as the genitals.
Pfizer Ordered to Pay $3.78 Million Following Death of 9-Year-Old Girl
In October 2010, Pfizer reached a $3.78 million settlement with the family of a nine-year-old New York girl who died in June 2004 as the result of a phenytoin-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which caused all of her skin to peel off.
The victim, Jesse Nichols Jacobson died less than a month after first receiving phenytoin and Flagyl, a medication used to treat certain types of infections which has also been linked to SJS/TEN.
Phenytoin SJS Lawsuit Filed in West Virginia
In April 2010, a lawsuit was filed against Mylan Pharmaceuticals in Kanawha Circuit Court in West Virginia on behalf of a Texas man who alleged that side effects of phenytoin caused him to develop Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
The Plaintiff, Juan Morales, contracted SJS from phenytoin he was prescribed in April 2008, according to the lawsuit. He was hospitalized at Corpus Christi Medical Center on May 22, 2008, after developing a severe rash that covered almost his entire body.
Morales sued Mylan for failing to warn of the dangers and for selling a defective product. He claims that had he known there was a risk of SJS, he never would have taken the medication.
Is There an SJS/TEN Warning on Phenytoin Labels?
In Canada and other countries, Pfizer warns on the labeling of phenytoin-containing medications that patients with African ancestry have a higher risk for developing Hypersensitivity Syndrome which can include TEN; however, the company has not bothered warning doctors and patients in the United States.
Pfizer's label does not advise clinicians that a drug-company-sponsored survey of seizure clinicians concluded that phenytoin should virtually never be used as a first-line anti-seizure drug for children. As many as 14 in 10,000 children who take phenytoin will develop SJS or TEN.
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Get a Free Phenytoin Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Phenytoin Stevens-Johnson Syndrome lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently investigating potential settlements in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) after taking Phenytoin, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case review. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit for legal fees and our defective drug lawyers can help with a free case evaluation.