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***UPDATE: Please note that Riddle & Brantley is no longer accepting these cases.

When Can I File a Dilantin Lawsuit?

North Carolina Drug Injury Attorneys Explain Serious and Fatal Dilantin Side Effects

Dilantin (and the generic version: Phenytoin) is a prescription medication for the treatment of certain types of seizures. It belongs in a class or drugs called “anticonvulsants,” and works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It is typically administered by injection and is among the most common drugs with which doctors treat seizures. However, Dilantin may cause the development of serious skin conditions, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). These conditions can cause debilitating pain as well as extensive scarring, blindness, organ failure and death. Despite these risks, pharmaceutical companies continue to market these dangerous drugs, and do not include adequate warning labels explaining the side effects.

If you or a loved one experienced serious side effects after taking an anticonvulsant, then you may be entitled to compensation through a Dilantin lawsuit. At Riddle & Brantley, our drug injury attorneys are currently reviewing cases involving Dilantin and Phenytoin. During a free consultation, we can review your medical history and diagnosis to discover if you may have grounds for a product liability claim against the drug manufacturer and/or prescribing doctor.

What are the Potential Side Effects of Dilantin?

The majority of lawsuits that have already been filed stem from patients suffering from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). This is a serious skin condition that typically affects the skin and mucous membranes, causing symptoms which mimic severe burns. In some cases, SJS may progress to Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), in which severe lesions and blisters cover more than 30 percent of the body.

The most common signs and symptoms of SJS and TEN include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Blisters around the mouth, eyes and/or genitals
  • Rash and blisters on the skin
  • Lesions caused by sloughing of dead skin

Other reported side effects of Dilantin include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vomiting
  • Increase in blood sugar levels
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Discolored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Anemia
  • Bone marrow hypoplasia
  • Agitation
  • Anemia
  • Chest discomfort
  • Learning disabilities in children
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Frequent bone fractures
  • Joint pain
  • Light gray stools
  • Low thyroid function
  • Malformed bones
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Organ failure
  • Painful erections
  • Restlessness
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swollen glands
  • Uncontrolled jerking of limbs
  • Uncontrolled facial movements
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • Yellow skin and eyes

Several lawsuits also allege Dilantin causes cerebral atrophy which may affect a person’s coordination, memory and comprehension.

Many users of the medications experience no side effects, including some who use the drug frequently. However, certain patients may suffer serious side effects, including certain ethnic and racial groups who may be more prone to developing SJS or TEN due to variations in their metabolic rate. According to the FDA, data suggests that individuals of Asian ancestry who carry the gene allele HLA-B*1502 may face a substantially increased risk of the skin problems from use of Dilantin or Phenytoin.

Who Can File a Dilantin Lawsuit?

Patients who believe they have suffered serious adverse side effects after taking Dilantin or any of the related generic versions should consult experienced drug injury attorneys to see if they may be entitled to compensation. Settlements may include reimbursement for wage losses, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

At least 100 lawsuits have already been filed against Pfizer (the manufacturer of Dilantin) as well as both Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Baxter Healthcare (the makers of generic versions). These lawsuits allege that patients taking these medications suffered serious skin reactions. According to the suits, the manufacturers of the drugs knew or should have known of these side effects, because the risks were confirmed in reports by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, related medications for sale in other countries by the same manufacturer contain patient warnings, including “black box warnings”. Yet, the lawsuits claim that patients who were prescribed the medications in the United States received no warnings.

In addition to these claims for failure to warn, the suits include allegations of product strict liability, negligence in bringing Dilantin to market, fraud and fraud by concealment. Some of these suits have already settled. For example, a Dilantin lawsuit filed on behalf of a 9-year-old girl who died after taking the drug settled for $3.78 million.

Some claims are class action lawsuits, meaning they include numerous victims of certain classifications. However, none of these lawsuits have yet gone to trial.

Are the Pharmaceutical Companies Liable for Drug Defects in Dilantin?

Despite the number of lawsuits currently facing Pfizer, Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Baxter Healthcare, these defendants have not admitted liability or issued product recalls. In fact, these companies have claimed various defenses, including federal preemption. This means that they claim that they are absolved of liability for any harm the drugs may cause because the medications were approved by the FDA. However, the plaintiffs in these lawsuits contend that this defense is inapplicable. It essentially equates to a person claiming they are not liable for causing a traffic collision because they held a valid driver’s license.

Additionally, makers of the generic drugs have gone a step farther and claim that they cannot control the warnings they issue. They contend that the warnings resulted from consultation between Pfizer, the manufacturer of the non-generic version, and the FDA.

The defendants have also contested the causation element in the suits. They claim no science definitively shows that the medications cause these side effects. It is true that SJS may result from a number of causes, though most relate to drug defects. Still, many persons who contract the condition are taking various medications, and more than one drug or a combination of drugs could potentially be the source of the condition.

Furthermore, the defendants argue that even if the medications cause such problems, the fault lies with the doctors or pharmacists who prescribe the medications. In some cases, this may be true or both the pharmaceutical company and the prescribing doctor may be liable. Our drug injury lawyers are currently reviewing a case where a doctor prescribed a very large dosage of this drug to a teenager who suffered serious injury. There is a potential claim against this doctor for prescribing such a large dosage.

How Can a Drug Injury Attorney Help with My Dilantin Claim?

All lawsuits have individual strengths and weaknesses, and the results of other settlements do not necessarily imply that your case will settle or settle for a high dollar value. Various state laws also apply, and some states have strong consumer protection and fraud laws. These laws can affect the outcome of the case. It is therefore important to speak to a drug defect lawyer for an evaluation of your individual case. An attorney can determine if you may be entitled to compensation for injuries from drug defects as well as whether your claim may already be included in an ongoing class action lawsuit.

The North Carolina personal injury attorneys at Riddle & Brantley provide free consultations on Dilantin and other dangerous drugs. If we determine that you have grounds for a Dilantin lawsuit, then we will offer to represent your case or connect you with another law firm that may be able to do so. If we do not believe you have a claim that is currently worth pursuing, then we will be honest with you, and there is still no cost to you.

In many instances, we associate with other law firms on matters involving drug defects and other product liability matters. This allows us to provide you with individual attention to your needs, while also helping our clients benefit from the knowledge and expertise of many attorneys that might fit an individual claim. This in turn helps to minimize costs to our clients, by combining the expense of expert witnesses, deposition costs and other expenses. Pursuing a claim does not necessarily mean that a lawsuit is necessary. The vast majority of personal injury claims settle without ever filing a lawsuit. Even if a lawsuit is filed, most cases are able to be settled without going to trial.

Did Dilantin Harm You or a Loved One? Contact Our NC Drug Injury Attorneys Now

We have office locations throughout North Carolina, including in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Jacksonville and Kinston. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take your call or answer your inquiry about Dilantin. Call us at (800) 525-7111 or otherwise fill out an online review form to schedule your free consultation.