Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Lawsuit

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is a rare and life-threatening allergic skin reaction that causes the top layer of skin to peel off. It can lead to infections, organ failure, blindness, or death. SJS causes a rash on less than 10% of the body. When the rash covers more than 30% of the body, SJS is called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). The risk of death from TEN is up to 50%.

What causes SJS?

SJS occurs when the immune system overreacts to something it thinks is toxic. Medications cause 75% of cases of SJS and TEN. Viral infections (herpes, pneumonia, HIV, hepatitis), vaccines, and diseases affecting organs or the whole body can also cause SJS. The FDA has issued warnings about SJS from acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. SJS is twice as common in men than women. It is also more common in children and young adults under 30. The most common medications that cause SJS are antibiotics, anti-epileptics, painkillers (ibuprofen, acetaminophen), and drugs that treat seizures, gout, or cancer. Some of these medications include:

  • Avelox (moxifloxacin)
  • Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
  • Dilantin (phenytoin)
  • Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Zithromax, ZPax (azithromycin)
  • Tylenol (Acetaminophen)

Complications of SJS

SJS can occur after a single dose of a medication. The first symptom is usually a flu-like illness with fever, nausea, and fatigue. A painful rash can start anywhere on the body and spreads quickly. SJS also causes blisters and inflammation of the mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose, throat, genitals, lungs). After a few days, the top layer of skin dies and peels off. Lesions may continue to erupt for 2-3 weeks.

Other complications include:

  • Vision loss
  • Blindness
  • Infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Loss of lung capacity
  • Dehydration and malnutrition
  • Skin disfigurement
  • Genital scarring
  • Urinary problems
  • Organ failure
  • Septic shock
  • Death


SJS must be treated in a hospital, usually in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or burn unit. The first step is discontinuing whatever might be causing SJS. The next step is treating the symptoms, which may include antibiotics to control infections, corticosteroids to control inflammation, intravenous (IV) immunoglobulins, fluids and nutrition, and a ventilator or oxygen mask if the patient has trouble breathing.

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is currently accepting medication-induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with SJS, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. 

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