Codeine Class Action
May 9 , 2007 - On April 30, 2007, the law firm of Rochon Genova LLP commenced a class action on behalf of infants who ingested potentially lethal components of Tylenol 3 through their mothers' breast milk, as well as the families of these infants. The defendants named in the lawsuit are Janssen-Ortho Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Corporation (the "Defendants"), one of the world's most broadly based manufacturers of health care products.
The claim, filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleges that the Defendants knew or ought to have known of the serious risks to infants related to the use of Tylenol 3 by nursing mothers, but failed to warn them of those risks. It is further alleged that the Defendants failed to perform adequate tests on their product and ignored available medical and scientific information which demonstrated that codeine and morphine (as a metabolite of codeine) are excreted through breast milk, exposing nursing infants to the risk of serious adverse effects including lethargy, poor feeding, constipation, irritability, stupor, bradycardia, respiratory depression, apnea, cyanosis and death.
"The claim emphasizes that the Defendants have a responsibility to inform women that Tylenol 3 is potentially lethal to breastfed infants", said Joel P. Rochon, a partner at Rochon Genova LLP.
Rani Jamieson is one of the proposed representative plaintiffs. Her son, Tariq, was just 12 days old when he died. His cause of death was found to be a result of complications from morphine/codeine intoxication caused by ingesting Rani's breast milk after she had used Tylenol 3 at or below a therapeutic dosage. "This terrible tragedy should never have occurred and I am determined to see that this does not happen to other children," said Rani. She is hoping that this law suit will promote "awareness and change" in the conduct of pharmaceutical companies. "Bottom line," she says, "based on everything I have seen, physicians and consumers should have been warned that Tylenol 3 should not be used by nursing mothers under any circumstance." The allegations raised in the claim have not yet been proven in court.
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