"Jerra had a grand mal seizure when she was a baby and was in and out of hospital for six years," says Randy. "She needed a blood count every three months to make sure there was no liver damage. Jerra doesn't remember anything about it, but I do. She suffered terribly from those blisters and her doctor said it was a Dilantin side effect—Jerra is 33 now so these symptoms—perhaps the beginning of Stevens Johnson Syndrome—have been known about for a long time.
"Jerra still had seizures, but the doctors were trying to find the right level of Dilantin to give her. One neurologist, out of the clear blue sky, said that Dilantin was the wrong medication to give her. It was designed for petit mal, not grand mal seizures."
That decision to stop Dilantin may have saved Jerra's life.
Unfortunately, many children suffer complications from medications like Dilantin. In March 2004 a nine-year-old girl had two seizures and was brought to NYU-Tisch Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and hydrocephalus. She underwent surgery but continued to have seizures, so Dilantin was prescribed. She was also given Flagyl and Children's Motrin. At the beginning of May, the child developed a rash and fever and shortly afterward was diagnosed with SJS, which later developed into Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). On June 2, 2004, the child died of TEN.
In May 2006 her parents filed a wrongful death suit against G.D. Searle & Co., Pharmacia Corp., Pharmacia & Upjohn Company, Pfizer (collectively, the Pfizer defendants), and McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals.
READ MORE DILANTIN SJS LEGAL NEWS
On December 29, 2009, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department decided to address the Dilantin claim. It is interesting to note that fact discovery was still being conducted in September 2008 and that Pfizer had been sued a number of times regarding Dilantin. In fact, the drug company had a "Dilantin settlement program" in place. The lawsuit contends that "as such, the Pfizer defendants are already aware of the potential issues concerning this drug and can easily compile the necessary documents to respond to plaintiffs' Dilantin-based discovery requests."