A Dilantin lawsuit, filed in 2010 by three plaintiffs directly affected by the Dilantin found in the medications they had been prescribed, also represented a deceased relative of one of the plaintiffs who died as the result of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, allegedly due to the ingestion of Dilantin. Of interest is the fact that while the injuries claimed by the defendants were incurred some ten years prior, the plaintiffs had only been made aware of the potential Dilantin side effects only recently—thus the statute of limitations should not apply.
"Defendants' Dilantin drug products are the most dangerous and lethal drugs that cause deaths from SJS/TENS," the suit states.
Stevens Johnson Syndrome has been described as a horrific disease characterized by a large rash and blisters on the outside of the body, as well as inside the mouth and throat, preventing the patient from eating or even swallowing. It can also affect the eyes, making them permanently hypersensitive to light. Some have likened the sloughing away of large swaths of skin to serious burns. To that end, most Dilantin TEN and Stevens Johnson Syndrome patients are treated in the burn unit at hospital.
It is thought to be an allergic reaction triggered by medications in some people. Hip-hop singer Ab-Soul was diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome at the age of 10. While he recovered, the encounter with SJS left him with light-sensitive eyes and dark lips, which he has to this day. It is not known what medication may have served as the catalyst for his SJS.
However, Dilantin was alleged to have been the medication behind a fatal skin condition that took the life of Bertha Coney, an African-American woman prescribed Dilantin for the treatment of seizures. The specific skin condition was never identified. However, in Health Law Week this past February (2/10/12), Coney is described as developing a severe skin rash following her use of Dilantin, a drug known to be potentially fatal in African-American patients.
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Thus, it is possible that Bertha Coney died of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, or a form thereof.
Various reports identify Dilantin as having been around since 1939 and used to treat symptoms of epilepsy even then. However, the 2010 lawsuit claimed that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not formally approve Dilantin as a means to mitigate seizures until 1976. Even then, the lawsuit claims, Dilantin should never have been approved as a safe treatment. The Dilantin lawsuit also noted that the manufacturers knew of the potential for serious side effects, but kept those details largely under wraps.