Botox injections can go terribly wrong.
Botox is used today for cosmetic and medical purposes. One Virginia lawsuit reminds us: before you get that Botox injection, think twice. In 2011, a jury awarded $212 million in a case involving a veteran who suffered the rare but real negative effects of a Botox injection. In this case Botox was being used for medical reasons. The suit was filed against Allergan, Inc., who makes the Botox.
This veteran of the Vietnam War needed help with his “writer’s tremor.” One medical use of Botox is to block muscle tension and to stop spasms. Botox is often used to block signals from the nerves affecting the muscle or muscle group. When injected, the Botox relaxes the muscle. This treatment is typically helpful for a few months.
The plaintiff in this case sought treatment at a VA Medical Center. Botox was injected on the first visit. The second injection was administered about three months later. Both of these injections were without incident. The third injection, three months after the second injection, was a different story entirely. In a very short time after the third injection, the plaintiff became confused, developed a rash, and became lethargic. Progressive brain damage resulted, leaving the plaintiff unable to speak, incontinent, and needing care around the clock. He was hospitalized numerous times, incurring significant medical costs.
The physician who administered all three of the Botox injections was, of course, quite alarmed by this patient’s reaction to the third injection. The physician immediately began to conduct research to understand what went wrong. The physician determined that the Botox migrated away from the site of the injection. The drug then triggered an auto-immune disorder. It was the disorder that caused the brain damage. During her research, the physician discovered a “Dear Doctor” that had been released by medical authorities in Europe. This “Dear Doctor” report also suggested that Allergan send a similar release to the rest of the world. The warning was not issued.
Testimony in the case revealed that there had been several emails circulated within Allergan that acknowledged both the possibility of the Botox traveling to another part of the body and creating “multiple systemic events.” Investigation and testimony revealed that the case was a “cover-up.” Allergan presented testimony from three medical specialists who argued that Botox could not have cause the brain damage. They argued that instead, it was due to a particular kind of genetic stroke disorder. Although the plaintiff does suffer from the stroke disorder, his attorneys and specialists argued that the stroke disorder would only cause such symptoms and effects over a much longer period, and that the plaintiff’s reaction was immediate after the injection.
The physician who administered the drug to the plaintiff testified that had she known the potential dangers of Botox injection she might not use it for such a minor matter. She indicated that she still uses Botox treatment for some medical issues, but that she weighs more carefully the risks and benefits for the patient.
Although a significant verdict in the case, Virginia law placed a cap on the amount that could be awarded for punitive damages at $350,000 rather than $200 million. Judgment was entered for $12.35 million. Plaintiff’s attorneys were considering an appeal of the judgment amount on the grounds that the Virginia law capping punitive damage awards is unconstitutional.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by unannounced side effects of Botox or another drug, you may be entitled to a financial settlement. Call Altizer Law, P.C., for an evaluation of your case by our caring and trusted attorneys. And, if you are using or considering Botox injections for any reason, please discuss the risks, dangers, and benefits of the treatment with your doctor.