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Woman Left Blind After Reaction to Pain Meds Wins $21M Verdict

Posted Sep 9, 2010 11:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A woman who says she was blinded and burned by a prescription pain medication has been awarded $21 million by a federal jury in New Hampshire.

The plaintiff, Karen Bartlett, had claimed the anti-inflammatory drug sulindac had caused Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, skin diseases that can cause death, the Associated Press reports. The skin conditions inflamed Bartlett’s mucous membranes and eyes, causing burns that left her blind and seared her stomach, throat and lungs, her suit had contended.

According to the AP account, Bartlett's lawyer, Keith Jensen, told jurors during closing arguments that the drug “literally burned her alive.”

Lawyers for the drug company, Mutual Pharmaceutical Co, had argued sulindac has been on the market for 32 years and all drugs carry risks. They did not present any witnesses, the AP story says. The company changed the warning label in 2005, the same year that Bartlett experienced problems, according to the story.

Plaintiffs lawyers said the award was the largest ever in a New Hampshire product liability case.

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