Phenytoin, popularly known as Dilantin, is a drug used to manage and prevent seizures. It is classified as an anti-epileptic and anticonvulsant drug that treats seizures and epilepsy by slowing down runaway brain impulses. It was the first the modern drug used to treat seizures and was approved by the FDA for treating seizures in 1953.
Most of the lawsuits being filed against the manufacturers of Dilantin are associated with the development of SJS and TEN. This is not new - cases of SJS related to Dilantin use was reported as early as the 1930’s. SJS is estimated to affect 1,400 out of 1 million children and 900 out of 1 million adults. SJS and TEN are always caused by the use of drugs. Asian and African Americans are at greater risk.
Further medical studies made in the 80s show an overwhelming correlation between Dilantin use and the development of SJS and TEN in both adult and pediatric patients. This was widely publicized in many medical textbooks which prominently displayed the high risk of developing SJS with continued use of Dilantin treatment. A study conducted in the 1980’s also showed that most of the people who developed Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis and Stevens Johnson Syndrome were using Dilantin.
It is estimated that 15 percent of all SJS cases are fatal. SJS is managed through good medical care, but like many diseases, the prognosis is much better when SJS is diagnosed sooner rather than later. This is why immediately discontinuing the administration of Dilantin for patients suffering from SJS is advised. If SJS is diagnosed and there is a delay is done in discontinuing Dilantin, these are also potential medical malpractice as well as product liability lawsuits.Settlements and Lawsuits
- In November 2010 Pfizer agreed to a $3.78 million settlement with the family of a nine-year-old girl who died less than one month after ingesting Dilantin.
- In 2008, a Dilantin case settled for $900,000. The patient had an allergic reaction to Ciprofloxacin that led to TEN and severe burns. This was a medical malpractice case.
- There are over 120 filed Dilantin Stevens Johnson lawsuit pending.
SJS/ TEN Symptoms
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a serious medical condition and if not diagnosed early could be fatal. The danger with SJS is that its early symptoms are very similar to the common flu. Patients suffering from SJS may be misdiagnosed until the first skin rashes and lesions appear.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis often results from severe allergic reactions to drugs. Common drugs known to produce this effect are sulfa drugs, antibiotics and anti-epileptics. Prognosis depends on how early the medical condition is identified and treated. If drugs are suspected, in this case Dilantin, any delay in the withdrawal of the medication may result to the fast progression of the disease.
Other side effects related to Dilantin treatment also includes:
- Liver Damage
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Decreased Blood Pressure
- Increased Blood Sugar
- Birth Defects