Her skin died on her body, separating from the membrane below it. Her eyes, her throat, her lungs – all suffered from the same cellular death. Unable to stop the tissue from dying, Karen Bartlett’s physicians put her into a coma to relieve her from the pain she was suffering. Now the Obama Administration is siding with the company that produced the drug that caused Ms. Barlett’s suffering.
The condition Ms. Bartlett suffered from is Steven Johnson Syndrome, a known side-effect of sulindac also known by the brand name Clinoril. Those who suffer from the injury are often treated in burn units or by intensive care units, as the condition causes severe blisters, extreme pain, scarring of the throat, and internal organs. It is often described as the skin burning from the inside out. Ms. Bartlett sued the company that manufactured the drug, Mutual Pharmaceutical Company, and a jury awarded her more than $20 million dollars.
Mutual has appealed the decision of the lower Court arguing that the jury’s decision stands in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mensing case. Mensing prevents an injured plaintiff from bringing suit against a generic drug manufacturer for failure to warn of potential side effects and stands as example of how far this Court will go to protect corporate interests over individuals.
The jury in the lower Court in Ms. Bartlett’s case sent a message that in spite of the decision in Mensing, companies must be held responsible for the damage and destruction they cause to individuals. In its amicus brief, the administration sides with Mutual and essentially tells Ms. Bartlett that despite her horrendous injuries, the company that made the drug cannot be touched because it’s just following the lead of the brand name drug manufacturer – leaving Ms. Bartlett with nowhere to turn for relief. Both the administration and the Court fail to recognize that while they let companies pass around their responsibility like a plaything, people like Ms. Bartlett are being left to suffer.