Rising Prescription Drug Use Corresponds to
Increase in Stevens Johnson Syndrome; SJS Foundation Issues
Bextra Label Updated with Boxed Warning Concerning Severe Skin Reactions
With more than 40
percent of Americans taking at least one prescription drug (2004 CDC report), the potential for the deadly adverse drug
reaction known as Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is increasing.
Described in many drug warning inserts
as a "serious skin condition," SJS is actually a devastating reaction affecting the skin and mucous membranes, causing
severe burning, blistering and sloughing of involved tissue. SJS commonly causes blindness and results in death in 10 to
30 percent of the cases.
An under-reported and under-recognized condition, people develop SJS from commonly
prescribed drugs, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants,and non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), including
over-the-counter drugs such as adult and children ibuprofen products. Because many physicians and emergency facilities
are not familiar with the symptoms, treatment is frequently delayed, further exacerbating the condition.
recognize SJS in its earliest stage, the SJS foundation urges patients and physicians to watch for the following
symptoms when taking medications:
-- Persistent fever
-- Burning or blistering of the mucous membranes,
i.e.: eyes, ears, mouth, nose, genital area.
-- Rash, blisters or red splotches on skin
-- Flu-like symptoms
-- History of a reaction to prescribed drugs or over-the-counter medications.
In one estimate, SJS
is reported to effect three to eight people per million per year in the U.S. However, the frequency could be much higher since only one percent of adverse drug reactions is
reported, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
"SJS is not as rare as we are led to believe," said Jean
McCawley, president of the SJS Foundation. "As prescription drug use increases, we are being contacted by increasing
numbers of people. During the winter months, we learn of 15 new cases a week, and that's only people with Internet
About SJS Foundation
Founded in 1995, the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation (Julie
Foundation for allergic drug reactions) is a non-profit organization that provides information and support for
victims, educates the medical community and encourages research in preventing adverse drug reactions. More
information is available at www.sjsupport.org
New Treatment for Acute Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis
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(TEN) are moderate and severe variations of the same adverse reaction (usually to drugs or mycoplasma pneumonia) which
result in blistering and sloughing of skin and mucosal membranes, and carry a high risk of mortality
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More Evidence: Vioxx Increases Heart RisksHigh Doses Linked With Heart
Attacks, Sudden Cardiac Death. By Jeanie Lerche Davis WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD on Thursday,
August 26, 2004
In a new study, patients taking higher doses of Vioxx (more than 25 mg daily) had triple the risk
of heart problems, including heart attacks and sudden cardiac death.
EXPENSIVE arthritis pills have not lived up to the hype
According to published research and interviews with arthritis doctors and drug specialists. Vioxx, which may be
better for the stomach, appears to have a far worse side effect than over-the-counter drugs: an increased risk of
heart attacks By Judy Foreman, Globe Columnist | July 27, 2004
Painkiller Vioxx Often Taken at Too High Dose Evidence continues to grow that the popular pain
reliever Vioxx may cause high blood pressure, swelling, and other health problems. July 14, 2004 --
WebMDHealth Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
>Vioxx Web Site, Merck & Co.
Vioxx Consumer Information,
US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Merck Tangles with FDA on Marketing, Forbes.com, September 25, 2001
You and A: Arthritis Drugs, Washingtonpost.com, September 4, 2001
Safety of Arthritis Drugs in Question, WebMD, July 10, 2001
Marketing Rx, A NewsHour with Jim Leher Transcript, December 26, 2000
Approval Package: Vioxx (Rofecoxib) Tablets, US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research