Bextra & Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Bextra, a drug manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, was approved in America by the Food and Drugs Administration in November 2001. This drug was put into the same group as some other drugs, which were collectively known as cox-2 inhibitors. Bextra, along with other Cox-2s, were prescribed for osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, and adult pain management.

All cox-2 inhibitors, including Bextra, received a very enthusiastic welcome from both medical professionals and patients. This was because the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs traditionally prescribed for these problems affected both the cox-1 enzyme and the cox-2 enzyme produced by the body. Because the cox-1 enzyme is responsible for protecting the lining of the stomach, many patients suffered chronic gastric problems. However, cox-2 inhibitors like Bextra were able to isolate and inhibit just the cox-2 enzyme, thus reducing the risk of gastric problems dramatically.

However, this benefit was to come at a high price, and it was not long before the potentially deadly side effects of Bextra became known. In fact, it is alleged that the FDA and Pfizer officials knew about these links even before drug was approved, and yet is was still approved and widely prescribed. The side effect was known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, also known as SJS. Along with another variation of the disease, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, this was a deadly side effect that could result from long term use of Bextra.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is a life-threatening disease that affects the skin. It can cause skin peeling rashes, and inflammation or blistering of the mucous membrane. The blistering is usually in areas such as the mouth, eyes, and vagina, and the rash can be patchy and in various areas. The other variation of SJS, which is TEN (Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis), has some of the same effects as SJS, but with this variation the skin can start to peel off on a large scale. Both of these skin diseases cause massive misery, pain, anxiety, and can prove fatal.

SJS and TEN are almost always caused by a drug reaction, and Bextra is known to be a risk factor. Although the FDA and Pfizer directors were thought to be aware of the link between Bextra use and SJS/TEN it was approved and prescribed to millions. Moreover, it is only very recently that Pfizer have been ordered to add a black box warning – the strongest warning possible – to Bextra packaging providing information about the risks carried by the drug in relation to these skin diseases.

The warning comes far too late for some people, who obliviously took the drug and suffered the effects. Bextra is now under fire once again for a possible link with heart attacks, although this is still being investigated. The side effects caused by Bextra have already resulted in a number of lawsuits against Pfizer, and it is likely that these lawsuits will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Those that have taken or are still taking Bextra are urged to educate themselves on the symptoms and effects of SJS/TEN and other Bextra side effects. If you notice anything amiss you should seek medical assistance immediately. You may also be entitled to compensation if you have suffered the side effects of Bextra, and there are now many lawyers and law firms that specialize in drug litigation and Bextra lawsuits. If you feel that you may have grounds for compensation – or even if you are unsure as to whether you have a case – it is advisable to contact an experienced Bextra lawyer. You will then be informed whether you have a valid case, and your lawyer can look at putting together a solid case in order to claim compensation for your medical expenses, pain, and suffering.