Khaliah Shaw is sharing her story after an FDA-approved medication left her scarred for life. The Georgia graduate student was prescribed an anti-seizure medication known as Lamotrigine. Just a few weeks after she began taking it, up to 90% of her skin had fallen off. Her life changed drastically and she was left permanently scarred.
Khaliah, a public health graduate student at Georgia College and State University, was prescribed the medication when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Within a month after taking it, she had developed a rash on her face. The lips on her skin also began to peel off. Khaliah was initially diagnosed with the flu. But two days later, she woke up in excruciating pain. The skin on her neck, back and chest was falling off, and her mouth was covered in blisters.
When Khaliah returned to the ER, doctors made the decision to put her into a medically-induced coma to manage her pain. Her hair fell out, her skin melted off and she began losing her sight. Khaliah was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. The rare and potentially fatal disorder is typically caused by a reaction to a medication. Khaliah was given the wrong dosage of her medication, a life-changing error that neither her doctor or her pharmacist caught.
When Khaliah woke up from a coma five weeks later, she was shocked to find that she was breathing from a tracheotomy and she could not see. She had lost all of her hair, as well as her fingernails. Lamotrigina, the drug that put Khaliah in the hopstical, is the generic form of the drug Lamictal. It is approved in the United States for the treatment of bipolar disorder and the treatment of partial seizures in epileptic patients.
Khaliah is now suing GlaxoSmithKline for promoting the product without warning about the dangerous possible risks. Five years ago, the company shelled out $3 billion in a lawsuit for failure to report the risks of the drug. Khaliah said, “This did not have to happen. This was not just some sort of fluke in my opinion. This happened as a direct result of somebody’s error.” Khaliah started her own blog to share her story and spread awareness about Stevens-Johnson syndrome and the dangers of medication.