Samantha Reckis was just seven years old when she suffered from an extreme allergic reaction to the common household painkiller, Children’s Motrin, that caused her to go blind and to lose 90 percent of her skin. Reckis is now 16 years old and on Wednesday she and her family were awarded $63 million by a Massachusetts jury that concluded that pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers sufficiently about the medicine’s potential side affects.
The unusually large award, which is still awaiting approval from the judge, could total up to $103 million after interest is added.
After taking the Motrin to combat a fever, Reckis began to have trouble breathing and broke up with inflamed skin. She was diagnosed with toxic epidermal necrolysis, a rare allergic reaction to medicine and causes the top layer of skin to detach from its lower layers. The little girl also lost her eyesight and suffered from temporary memory loss. She was put into a medically induced coma to aid in the healing process.
“It’s like having your skin burned off of you,” Bradley M. Henry, one of the family’s attorneys said. “Imagine your worst sunburn times 1,000. It’s an absolutely devastating condition.”
The family filed for the lawsuit in 2007, but Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that they believed that the medicine was labeled adequately.
“Children’s Motrin (ibuprofen), when used as directed, is a safe and effective treatment option for minor aches and pains and fever and we believe the medicine is labelled appropriately.”
The Massachusetts jury awarded Samantha Reckis $50 million and her parents both $6.5 million each. Reckis is now an honor student, but because of her memory loss, works twice as hard to keep up with her classmates.