Patient Sues Hospital, Doctor, and Pfizer Over Azulfidine Complications

On Friday a case was removed from New Mexico’s 4th Judicial District Court of San Miguel County to the District of New Mexico. The case was filed by a patient against the San Miguel Hospital Corporation, Alta Vista Regional Hospital, Quorum Health Resources, Elin Ritchie MD, Greenstone LLC and Pfizer Inc., regarding product liability and medical malpractice regarding the use of Azulfidine.

Azulfidine is a drug used to reduce inflammation and is used to treat various conditions including rheumatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis. The patient, according to the complaint, was prescribed this medication and developed a potentially fatal complication called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS) with toxic epidermal necrolysis.

The plaintiff is suing defendants Greenstone LLC, and Pfizer Inc. for failure to warn. Azulfidine was originally approved in 1950 and has a long history that shows the possible complications of the medication. The plaintiff accuses the defendants of knowing of the possibility of severe or fatal incidences of SJS in the past history, but of deliberately concealing the warning for this condition by placing the warning in the same area of the package literature as benign or minor side effects, making it unlikely that a treating or prescribing physician would consider it to be a serious condition.

The plaintiff is additionally suing defendants San Miguel Hospital Corporation, Quorum Health Resources LLC, Alta Vista Regional Hospital, and Dr. Elin Ritchie for medical malpractice regarding their diagnosis and treatment of her condition. When the plaintiff went to their facility for treatment, the plaintiff says that the defendants did not consider the severity of her reaction and did not actually connect her skin condition with her medication. This resulted in the patient receiving minimal treatment and continuing to take the medication, further exacerbating and inflaming the condition until the patient was in a life threatening situation.

The plaintiff is suing for negligence, negligent hiring, respondeat superior, failure to warn, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, negligent misrepresentation, product liability, false advertising, and punitive damages.

The plaintiff is represented by Worminton & Bollinger and Durham Pittard & Spalding LLP. San Miguel Hospital Corporation, Quorum Health Resources, and Alta Vista Regional Hospital are represented by Madison Mroz Steinman Kenny & Olexy.