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Allergan Wants $460k From Mother Who Lost Suit

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, April 26, 2010 12:15 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Botox, Allergan, Botulism, Cosmetics, FDA

Allergan wants court costs from mother who unsucessfully sued the company over off-label Botox death of her daughter.
Kristin Spears, 7

LEGAL COSTS

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IMAGE SOURCE: Orange County Register Web site, image of Kristin Spears, 7

Allergan, the California company that makes Botox Cosmetic, is going after a mother who unsuccessfully sued the company over the death of her 7-year-old daughter.

Allergan wants to recover $460,000 in legal costs from Dee Spears, a nurse who cares for disabled children.

“I’ve been a lawyer for 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything more outrageous than a corporation pursuing this lady for $460,000,” said Spears’ attorney, Ray Chester to the Orange County Register.

“It’s the worst case of corporate bullying I’ve ever seen.”

On Tuesday, March 2, after a five-week trial, a Santa Ana jury decided 10-2 that Irvine-based Allergan was not responsible for the 2007 death of Kristen Spears, 7, reports the Orange County Register.

Dee Spears had sued the company for $60 million, accusing it of concealing information about the dangers of the drug, which was used to relax the clenched limbs of her daughter, who suffered from cerebral palsy.

Kristin Spears died November 24, 2007 of pneumonia and respiratory failure after a series of seven injections of therapeutic strength Botox, which is stronger than the cosmetic cousin, Botox Cosmetic.

Allergan argued in the trial that the natural progression of her disease led to her death, not Botox.

Therapeutic Dose

Botox is used off-label on children with cerebral palsey.

Spears argued that the company paid for Kristen’s doctors to be trained to inject Botox into her daughter with an amount double what Allergan considers to be an overdose. The jury agreed that Allergan did not reveal that over 8 units per kilogram of body weight is an overdose.

Cosmetic injections usually fall beneath 1 unit per kilogram.

The retaliatory action could discourage others from filing lawsuits against Allergan.

Spears now lives in a mobile home in Amarillo, Texas, a state that has homestead protections so she cannot lose her home.

“No one could call this a frivolous case by any stretch of the imagination,” Chester told the Orange County Register.

Plaintiffs’ Lawsuits

There are 15 plaintiffs’ lawsuits that also accuse Allergan of not being forthcoming about the dangers of Botox. The next in line went to trial last week.

A medical doctor in Oklahoma, Dr. Sharla Helton, blames tingling nerves, aching muscles and painful joints,” on Botox. She became ill and lost her job after she says she got Botox injections in 2006 to reduce wrinkles.

Helton’s lawyer, is Ray Chester of Austin, Texas, who defended her character and accused Irvine-based Allergan of repeatedly covering up the dangers of Botox.

He told the jury Helton is “a model citizen, a fantastic doctor, a super wife and mom for 47 years right here in Oklahoma City.” Such a person would not “all of a sudden become this person that they’re trying to paint. Just think about that. Do people really change that much overnight?”

As an example of Allergan’s alleged cover-ups, the Orange County Register reports Chester described a company document recommending how doctors should talk to patients about Botox:

“Call it a protein. Don’t call it a toxin. Well, that’s fine except it is a toxin. People ought to know that if they’re going to get injected.

“Next, call it a purified protein. Don’t call it a poison. Well, that’s fine except that it is a poison. …

“My favorite one – Call it …”temporary.” Don’t call it “deadly,” even though it is a deadly neurotoxin."

Chester said in his opening arguments last week that Botox can spread outside of the injection site and that Dr. Helton was injected with 50 units of Botox by a nurse trained by Allergan.

The FDA has approved shots of 20 units of Botox to remove the lines between the eyebrows known as glabellar lines.

Attorneys for Allergan counter that Botox is “one of the most widely used pharmaceutical drug products in the history of the country.”

Allergan says Helton only had side effects when she had her fifth series of shots. The company says she does not have botulism as she claims and that “Botulism is not a side effect of Botox.”

The FDA now requires a tougher black box warning on botulinum toxin (Botox) after calls from consumer groups such as Public Citizen.

The warning says that high doses can spread to other parts of the body from the injection site causing difficulty breathing and swallowing. #


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