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Appeals Court Upholds $120 Million Sulindac Injury Award

Filed June 4th, 2012 Laurie

In September 2010, a federal jury awarded Karen Bartlett, of Plaistow, N.H., $21.6 million after concluding that a prescription drug Bartlett had been taking to treat shoulder pain caused her blindness and severe burning of her skin and mucus membranes. Now, The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the ruling Mutual Pharmaceutical of Philadelphia, which manufactured the generic, anti-inflammatory drug sulindac.

Mutual Pharmaceutical challenged the verdict as excessive, specifying the $16.5 million the jury awarded Bartlett for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. The court upheld the verdict, saying “Bartlett’s injuries were truly horrific.”

Bartlett spent two months in the burn unit of Massachusetts General Hospital, and several more months in a medically induced coma as doctors treated burns over 65 percent of her body. Bartlett has had to endure more than a dozen surgeries on her eyes and is still legally blind. Her surgeon described the entire process as “hell on earth” for Bartlett.

Bartlett said she filed the lawsuit to educate the public about how dangerous antibiotics can be.
“I never knew something like this could happen just from taking medication,” she said. Her symptoms began within weeks of going on the medication.”

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