Medication error melts woman’s face

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.

A pending lawsuit by her claims she received the wrong dosage of the medication, 11Alive reports. Sometimes anti-seizure medication is used to treat bipolar illness.

Khaliah Shaw found herself in a coma after being given the wrong strength of prescription for her bipolar disorder. Photo courtesy of Khaliah Shaw.

“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 pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for aggressively promoting Lamictal without fully disclosing its risk of the drug.

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

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

(WARNING: Graphic Photo)-Read more below

 

“I was in excruciating pain. It felt like I was on fire,” the Georgia woman told Atlanta television station 11Alive. “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 young vibrant young woman to something out 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.

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.

You can read more about Shaw’s story at her web page including photos at the Journey of a Butterfly by clicking here.

Or read the whole 11Alive report by clicking here.

(Feature photo provided by Khalia Shaw).

DEA cracks down on kratom served at many kava bars

Kratom, served at some kava bars throughout Palm Beach County, will soon be considered in the same class of illegal drugs as heroin, LSD, marijuana and Ecstasy.

The Drug Enforcement Administration announced Tuesday its intention to place the active materials in the kratom plant into the Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Kavasutra in Lake Worth is one of many kava bars to have opened in south Florida in recent years. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)
Kavasutra in Lake Worth is one of many kava bars to have opened in south Florida in recent years . (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

“Kratom is abused for its ability to produce opioid-like effects and is often marketed as a legal alternative to controlled substances,” the DEA said in a statement.

The drug also has been used to wean addicts off stronger drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methadone. Researchers at the University of Mississippi say it may even act as a suppressor for such highly addictive drugs.

The DEA crackdown is a victory for advocates who have warned of the dangers of kratom and also a financial hit for the several kava bars that operate from Boca Raton to Palm Beach Gardens.

“I think it is awesome. I am very happy that someone has listened to what we have been saying for the past three years,” said Linda Mautner, a Delray Beach resident.

Mautner blames her son Ian’s suicide in July 2014 on addiction to kratom. She says the drug is “seemingly benign” because it is touted as “all natural. She said Kava bars are very lucrative businesses and can lure unsuspecting young people into addiction.

“I hope this is right thing and I hope it will save lives,” she said. Currently, the mother has established a foundation in hopes of building a center for continuum of care for alcoholics and addicts once they finish their 30-day treatment.

 

Linda Mautner speaks about kratom and asks to have age restrictions on the sale of the herbal substance during the Palm Beach County Commission meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla. on Tuesday, December 2, 2014. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)
Linda Mautner speaks about kratom a during a Palm Beach County Commission meeting in December  2014. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

Most kava bars contacted did not want to  comment on the DEA’s move, but James Hare, manager of Native Kava in Boynton Beach, said the DEA is in overkill mode when it has been shown by researchers to have medicinal purposes.

“It’s crazy to go from zero to a schedule I substance. It is irresponsible,” he said.

Hare said most of the problems, such as so-called overdoses, associated with kratom comes from extracts in which other substances are added or it is mixed with other drugs by the user. There is even synthetic kratom.

“There is a market for it synthetic blends and people are having an adverse affect and they are blaming it on kratom itself,” Hare said.

 

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Kratom comes in numerous forms, law enforcement says.

Kratom just doesn’t come in a drink served in coconut shell at kava bars. Law enforcement has seized it in powder, plant, capsules and even drug patches.

“Because the identity, purity levels, and quantity of these substances are uncertain and inconsistent, they pose significant adverse health risks to users,” the DEA stated.

The Centers for Disease Control says kratom abuse can lead to agitation, irritability, and hypertension. The DEA is aware of 15 kratom-related deaths between 2104 and 2016.

Kratom, from a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, can have stimulant effects at low doses and sedative effects at high doses, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

It is banned in Thailand, Australia, Myanmar, Malaysia. Several U.S. states have also moved to make it illegal, but Florida never followed suit after legislation failed.