After Drug Reaction, Mass. Family Is Awarded $109M

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Health care company Johnson & Johnson has been told to pay a Massachusetts teenager and her parents $63 million after she suffered a life-threatening drug reaction and lost almost all of her skin when she took a children's pain reliever nearly a decade ago.

A Plymouth Superior Court jury Wednesday decided Johnson & Johnson and its McNeil Laboratories subsidiary should pay Samantha Reckis and her parents a total of $109 million, including interest.

Family attorney Brad Henry says Samantha was 7 years old when she was given Motrin-brand ibuprofen. She suffered a rare side effect known as toxic epidermal necrolysis and lost 90 percent of her skin and was blinded.

A spokeswoman for New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson Services Inc. says the girl's family has suffered a tragedy but the company disagrees with the verdict and is "considering additional legal options."

Henry said this is the third such case Johnson & Johnson has lost regarding the same product.

"Sooner or later they will get the message that they need to warn consumers about these conditions," he said. "It may be rare, but it is utterly devastating."

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This article was originally published on February 13, 2013.

This program aired on February 13, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.