A federal court jury awarded more than $8.8 million Thursday to a former White House official who contended that his liver was destroyed by the widely used pain-relieverTylenol.
Anthony Benedi, 39, of Springfield, Va., a former special assistant to President George Bush, said he was in good health until February, 1993, when he began taking Tylenol Extra Strength to treat the flu.
Jeff Leebar, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, parent company of Tylenol manufacturer McNeil Consumer Products Co., said the award would be appealed.
After taking the recommended doses for several days, Benedi said, he slipped into a coma and was hospitalized. Doctors found that his liver had failed and he received a liver transplant Feb. 12, 1993.
During the trial, testimony showed that Benedi regularly drank wine with his dinner. Specialists testified that regular alcohol consumption can cause the liver to become overly sensitive and prone to damage from usually harmless doses of Tylenol.
Benedi’s experts testified that McNeil had known for years that alcohol drinkers could suffer unusual liver damage from ordinary doses of Tylenol but had failed to warn the public.
A Food and Drug Administration panel recommended last year that an alcohol warning be included on Tylenol and several other types of over-the-counter pain relievers. Some Tylenol products carry the warning, but not the “Extra Strength Tylenol” that Benedi used.
Leebar said: “We believe the injuries sustained were caused by a pre-existing virus infection and not by Tylenol. Tylenol has established an excellent safety record from 30 years of patient use.”
Another spokesman, Bob Kniffin, said all cases in which alcohol and Tylenol have been implicated in liver damage have involved alcoholics or an overdose of Tylenol or a combination of both. He said Johnson & Johnson is preparing labels for all Tylenol products that will warn patients consuming three drinks daily to consult a physician.