Woman’s skin melts off after medication error: ‘It felt like I was on fire’

There are medication errors and then there are medication errors that melt your face.

Khaliah Shaw, 26, said in 2014 she went to a doctor because she felt depressed and received a prescription for the anti-seizure medication lamotrigine. The drug is often marketed in the U.S. as Lamictal.

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Shaw filed a lawsuit contending she received the wrong dosage of the medication, according to Atlanta TV station 11Alive. Sometimes anti-seizure medication is used to treat bipolar illness.

“The goal to spread awareness as much as I can,” Shaw told The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday. “It is difficult being in the spotlight, but I think it is worth it if it means someone is more educated about the medication that they are taking.”

She is not alone. People are suing drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for aggressively promoting Lamictal without fully disclosing the risks of the drug.

The pharmaceutical giant pleaded guilty to criminal negligent charges in July of 2012, and paid $3 billion to resolve allegations of fraud and failure to report product safety data for Lamictal.

For Shaw, after two weeks of using the medication, blisters broke out all of her body.

"I was in excruciating pain. It felt like I was on fire," the Georgia woman told 11Alive.

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“It essentially causes your body to burn from the inside out and you pretty much just melt.”

She was diagnosed with Stevens Johnson Syndrome a rare serious skin disorder that is often caused by an allergic reaction to medication. She went from looking like a vibrant young woman to something resembling a burn victim.

“I didn’t have to have people staring at me or wondering why I look different,” she said. “Three years ago, my life changed forever.”

Shaw spent five weeks in a medically induced coma. During that time, her skin melted off.

“They’re telling me this could happen again, and they’re telling me if it did happen again, that it would be worse,” said Shaw.

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Shaw’s medical bills have reached more than $3.45 million.

"I never heard of Steven Johnson Syndrome until I was in the hospital with my skin melting off of my body. That's when I learned what it was," she told 11Alive. "It's a lesson she says no one should have to learn. "It's important to know what's in your body."

She wants to get the word out to people to be careful about medications.

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You can read more about Shaw's story on her webpage, Journey of a Butterfly, on her web page.

Or read the whole 11Alive report here.