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When Macey Beth Johnson was one week old, she was prescribed the heartburn drug Propulsid to alleviate an acid-reflux problem. The medication was not approved for infants and had been linked to heart arrhythmia and heart attacks in adults, said plaintiffs’ attorney Jim Shannon. After taking the drug, Shannon said, Macey blacked out three times, suffered a heart attack and “almost died.” Propulsid has been linked to more than 100 deaths and hundreds of less severe adverse cardiac events, Shannon charged. In Mississippi, 155 plaintiffs filed a products liability action against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of the drug, and Janssen’s parent, Johnson & Johnson. The complaints of these plaintiffs are being tried in groups of 10; this verdict, for Trial Group I, contained the action by Macey Beth Johnson and nine adults who took the drug between 1993 and 2000. The Food and Drug Administration had approved Propulsid for use to treat adult nighttime heartburn. But, Shannon said, between 1993 and 1996, there were reports of dozens of major adverse reactions. The defendants took the drug off the market in April 2000, “under pressure by the FDA,” he said. The defendants disputed the claims of Propulsid-caused injuries. The plaintiffs’ attorneys called the prescribing doctors, Shannon noted, who testified that the companies or sales people never informed them about possible adverse effects. “The physicians found out the side effects in 2000, when they took it off the market.” On Sept. 28, a Port Gibson, Miss., jury awarded $10 million to each of the 10 plaintiffs. Following the verdict, Circuit Court Judge Lamar Pickard ruled that the actions of the defendants did not warrant punitives. The defendants will be filing motions to set aside the verdict. Plaintiffs’ attorneys: Jim Shannon, Shannon Law Firm, Hazlehurst, Miss.; Ed Blackmon, Blackmon & Blackmon, Canton, Miss.; Jim Upshaw and Lonnie Bailey, Upshaw Law Firm, Greenwood, Miss.; Mark Sledge, Grenfell, Sledge & Stevens, Jackson, Miss.; Bob Owens, Owens Law Firm, Jackson, Miss. Defense attorneys: Christie Jones and Mason Heidelberg, Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada, Jackson; Robert Johnson, Natchez, Miss.

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