Healthcare Business News

J&J ordered to pay $63 million over labeling

By Rodd Zolkos, Crain's Business Insurance
Posted: February 14, 2013 - 2:00 pm ET

A Massachusetts jury awarded a teenage girl and her parents $63 million, after finding Johnson & Johnson failed to provide adequate warnings of the potential for negative reactions to Children's Motrin like the one that caused the girl to lose most of her skin and be left blind after taking the medication in 2003.

After taking the Childen's Motrin brand of ibuprofen for a fever, then seven-year-old Samantha Reckis developed toxic epidermal necrolysis, a rare disorder resulting from an adverse reaction to medications including ibuprofen.

The Plymouth Superior Court jury on Wednesday awarded $50 million to the girl and $6.5 million to each of her parents, finding that Johnson & Johnson and its McNeil-PPC Inc. subsidiary failed to provide sufficient warning of such potential side effects.

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In a statement, the company's McNeil consumer healthcare division said, “We disagree with today's verdict and are considering additional legal options.”

“The Reckis family has suffered a tragedy and we sympathize deeply with them,” the statement said. It added however, that side effects like toxic epidermal necrolysis “are very rare conditions, and the specific cause is difficult to ascertain,” adding that the company thinks the medicine is labeled appropriately.

In 2010, Business Insurance reported that New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson self-insures its product liability exposures, finding it impossible to obtain adequate limits in the insurance market, using its Vermont-domiciled Middlesex Assurance Co. Ltd. captive to finance product liability risks. Attempts to confirm that that risk financing arrangement remains in place were unsuccessful.

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