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Motrin verdict: 'Nobody cares,' says mom

July 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A jury found Johnson & Johnson and McNeil Laboratories not liable for a young girl's illness. The jury said they could not pin the girl's illness on the makers of Children's Motrin and its warning labels."It means that nobody cares that she has been blinded. It means that nobody cares that she was almost tortured to death. That's got to matter to somebody. And no, you should not see children, or mothers watching their children die. You've got to look into some of these cases," said Joan Johnson, mother of 11-year-old Sabrina Johnson.

The family of Sabrina claimed Children's Motrin caused the child's blindness. They said Sabrina broke out in blisters after taking the over-the-counter medication. They charged that McNeil Laboratories, the maker of the ibuprofen drug, failed in its labeling to warn of potentially lethal side effects.

The jury found McNeil and its parent company were aware of risks, but that the warning label was adequate. Specifically, it does advise consumers to notify a doctor if the child's symptoms change.

"And when she, the mother, woke up at 7 o'clock and saw her daughter's eyes puffy, that's a new symptom. And it says it right there, plain on the package: Any new symptoms, stop use, contact the doctor," said Robin Nickel, juror.

Other jurors question whether a stronger label would have mattered.

"Because they had used the product, many times in the past with no problems ... Both on their daughter and their son," said juror Stara Marx.

"The FDA is not doing anything for us. They are taking care of the prescription drug people. They're taking care of their billions of dollars. And the few children that die ... Oh well," said Johnson.

A spokesperson for McNeil Laboratories said that they sympathize with the plight of Sabrina, but they insisted that Children's Motrin is safe and effective when taken as directed.

The plaintiffs said there are nine other similar lawsuits filed by other people afflicted with the same condition. They said those cases will be scheduled later this year in other cities across the nation.

"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," McNeil PPC Inc. said in a statement after the verdict.

Eyewitness News reporter Miriam Hernandez contributed to this report.

 

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