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Motrin trial: 'I can't see you, Mommy'

June 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A father testified in a Malibu trial against Children's Motrin Monday, a suit that alleges the product triggered an allergic reaction that left his young daughter blind.In Malibu, an 11-year-old girl has taken the witness stand in the trial that alleges an allergic reaction to Children's Motrin left her permanently blind.

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It was show-and-tell time for the jury. They have to decide whether Johnson & Johnson's Motrin caused injury to Sabrina Johnson, causing near blindness, and then the extent of that injury. The jury saw in graphic detail how Sabrina has to look at a computer, with her face inches from the screen.

Even before her first word of testimony, the disability of 11-year-old Sabrina Johnson was clear to the jury. Taking her oath, she couldn't see the clerk. The bailiff helped her to the witness stand.

Sabrina Johnson testified as an alleged victim of Children's Motrin, which did not carry a warning for SJS, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare allergic reaction.

Yet, despite her hardships for the last five years, she remains consistently optimistic.

About hiding in darkness on Christmas because light was so painful: "That was not a very fun Christmas because I was in a box -- I was one of the presents," said Sabrina.

Her father, Kenneth Johnson, testified that he would have never given her the Children's Motrin if it had a more explicit warning label about potential side effects. Now it's the child's future he worries about.

"I am scared to death that my girl will end up alone in some apartment in the middle of some city on a government subsistence check, unable to take care of herself, and that scares me to death," said Kenneth Johnson.

Motrin is made by McNeil Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The company says the FDA cleared it for over-the-counter sales and approved the warning label.

The FDA later called for a change when they received more reports of bad reactions.

For Sabrina, getting teased at school for hiding from the sun was just a small part of it.

"Now, they just tease me because I can't play with them," said Sabrina. "Because playing handball or something, I won't be able to see the ball, so it's harder."

The plaintiffs are now winding up their case. The attorneys for Johnson & Johnson will take over very soon and should be completed with their case in the next two weeks.

Johnson & Johnson, meantime, maintains that Children's Motrin remains safe and effective.

 

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