Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation Issues Warning Signs
- Deadly adverse drug reaction is frequently misdiagnosed -

Denver, COLO. --- July 22, 2002 --- With more Americans taking antibiotics and other prescription drugs, the potential for deadly adverse drug reactions such as Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) is increasing. SJS is a severe allergic reaction to commonly prescribed drugs, including antibiotics, anti-convulsants and painkillers. To alert both physicians and patients, the SJS Foundation is issuing the warning signs of SJS.

An under-reported and under-recognized condition, SJS is a devastating reaction affecting the skin and mucous membranes, causing severe burning, blistering and sloughing of involved tissue. SJS commonly causes blindness and results in death in 10 to 30 percent of the cases. Because many physicians and emergency facilities are not familiar with the symptoms, treatment is frequently delayed, further exacerbating the condition.

To recognize SJS in its earliest stage, the SJS foundation urges patients and physicians to watch for the following symptoms when taking prescribed medications, especially sulfa-based antibiotics or anti-convulsants:

In one estimate, SJS is reported to effect three to eight people per million per year in the U.S. However, the frequency could be much higher since only one percent of adverse drug reactions is reported, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

"SJS is not as rare as we are led to believe," said Jean McCawley, president of the SJS Foundation. "Since setting up the SJS Foundation and launching our website, we've been contacted by thousands of individuals. During the winter months, we learn of 15 new cases a week, and that's only people with Internet access."

About SJS Foundation
Founded in 1995, the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation (Julie Foundation for allergic drug reactions) is a non-profit organization that provides information and support for victims, educates the medical community and encourages research in preventing adverse drug reactions. More information is available at

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Note to Media: Personal stories, photos and videotape are available upon request.

Media Contacts:
Jean McCawley
SJS Foundation

Valerie Chereskin
Chereskin Communications