Children's Advil and Stevens Johnson Syndrome

Children’s Advil is a widely used painkiller that is designed for children aged two to eleven years, and is available over the counter. As a prescription medication which was introduced in 1989, millions of prescriptions were written out for this medication. More recently, it was approved for over the counter sales, enabling parents to simply make their purchase from anywhere from the drugstore to the local supermarket.

The recent controversy relating to various children’s drugs that have been linked to Stevens Johnson Syndrome have included a number of over the counter ibuprofen based drugs, including children’s Advil. Parents have been shocked to realize that this popular and widely available medication can actually result in a painful, and potentially fatal, skin disease known as Stevens Johnson Syndrome. A number of cases have been thrown into the media, including a case where a three year old girl died after taking just a few doses of Advil. However, the Food and Drugs Administration – as well as the drug’s manufacturers – claimed that no warning was required on Advil and similar over the counter drugs due to the rarity of SJS.

This has done nothing to placate the parents that have lost children to this medication, and the FDA and the manufacturers are under increasing pressure to look at the labelling on children’s Advil and similar ibuprofen medications. A spokesman for Wyeth, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures children’s Advil, has already stated: "If it turns out this child died after taking Children's Advil, we would look into it... We want to get the information so we can investigate it."

However, the fact remains that at present – even though prescription ibuprofen based products are required to provide details of possible side effects and problems – over the counter ibuprofen products are not required to do so because officials state that the risks are too low to warrant these warnings. "There is only so much you can put on a label," an FDA spokesman has stated. "We already know that the longer the labels, the less someone is going to read them."

Stevens Johnson Syndrome can start with non-specific symptoms such as cough, aching, headaches, and feverishness. This may be followed by a red rash across the face and the trunk of the body, which can continue to spread to other parts of the body. The rash can form into blisters, and these blisters can form in areas such as the eyes, mouth and vaginal area. The mucous membranes can become inflamed, and the hair and nails can also come away in some cases, and sufferers can become cold and feverish.

This skin disease has been linked to a number of medications, including cox-2 inhibitors, some antibiotics, and children’s penicillin based drugs such as Motrin and Advil. However this disease can also be caused by viral and bacterial infections, and in some cases the cause remains unknown. Whatever the cause of the SJS, treatment can be very involved and the chances of survival or recovery without long term damage can vary.

Any parent that is concerned because their child has taken or is still taking children’s Advil should contact their doctor immediately for further advice with regards to this medication. It is also likely that an increasing number of lawyers will be preparing themselves for increasing litigation relating to symptoms and side effects caused by children’s ibuprofen based medications such as Advil. Any parent that has had a child suffer such symptoms after taking Advil or similar children’s medication is advised to seek legal assistance as well as medical assistance.