After a federal jury came back finding a Philadelphia-based Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. liable for injuries of a woman from a prescription drug she took, they awarded her $21 million.
According to Fox News, Karen Bartlett, 51 years old, began taking Sulindac in January 2005 to treat her shoulder pain. Sulindac is an anti-inflammatory drug manufactured by Mutual Pharmaceutical. Just after two weeks of taking the prescription drug, Bartlett had red spots on her face and irritation around her eyes. It was about a month later on February 2, 2005, she went to the hospital "complaining of feeling like there were ‘pebbles’ under her eyelids and in her throat, and suffering from a worsening rash."
Bartlett was eventually told she suffered from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS/TEN). This was a direct result of taking Sulindac.
SJS is a potentially deadly disease and people who are diagnosed with the disease suffer extreme skin burn, inflaming of the mucus membranes and eyes.
Bartlett was in the hospital 112 days. She went to five different hospitals, one including the Massachusetts General Hospital Burn Unit. Because of the disease, her throat, lungs, and stomach were seared, causing permanent disabilities.
After taking this prescription drug, Bartlett went through 12 eye operations and as a result is now legally blind.
After this verdict was rendered, Mutual Pharmaceutical’s attorney, Pierre Chabot, declined to comment.
According to Bartlett, her goal in filing this lawsuit was to "educate others about the dangers of prescription drugs." She said, "Before this happened to me, I never knew something like this could happen just from taking medication."
Keith Jensen, Bartlett’s attorney, said the SJS disease, "literally burned her alive. It burned 65 percent of the skin off her body…it burned her inside and out."
The trial was 14 days long and included photographs of all the burns Bartlett had on her body and of her eyes.
The same year that Bartlett started taking the prescription drug and then was diagnosed with SJS, Mutual changed their warning label on Sulindac to include the possible side effect of SJS/TEN.
According to Bartlett’s attorney, the amount of money the jury awarded Bartlett was the largest award in a New Hampshire product liability case.