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Woman Blames Alka-Seltzer for Coma

LAS VEGAS (CN) - A woman claims in court that Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Formula put her in a hospital for 31 days in a coma, from which she awoke with most of her skin missing.

Aqila Hall-Hood sued Bayer and Wal-Mart in Clark County Court. She claims Bayer intentionally hides the harmful ingredients in Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Formula from consumers.

She blames those ingredients for creating blisters inside her mouth that caused her to fall into a month-long coma and lose much of her skin.

Hall-Hood claims that Bayer hides its "knowledge of Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Formula's unreasonably dangerous risks," and that Bayer and Wal-Mart do not "adequately inform consumers about the risks" of using the medicine.

Hall-Hood claims that on Jan. 16, 2013, she sought relief from cold and allergy symptoms by taking Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold & Cough Formula before going to bed. She took it again the next evening. Upon waking on Jan. 18, she claims, she noticed red blisters inside her mouth, which she says never happened before.

That day Hall-Hood flew to Lake Tahoe for a weekend trip. By the time the plane landed, she claims, she was feeling ill and suffering from the blisters in her mouth. When the symptoms continued on Jan. 19, Hall-Hood visited a Reno-area Quick Care clinic where a doctor suggested she might have Stevens-Johnson syndrome and told her to get to a hospital right away.

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a "rare and serious disorder" of the skin and mucous membranes usually caused by a reaction to an infection or medicine, according to the Mayo Clinic. It initially causes flu-like symptoms and a purplish rash that causes blisters and spreads until the top layer of skin dies. Officials at the Mayo Clinic say treatment can take weeks or months, and sufferers must stop using any medicine that caused the condition.

Because Hall-Hood was spending the weekend in Lake Tahoe, she said the doctor who diagnosed her with Stevens-Johnson syndrome scheduled a medical flight for her back to Las Vegas. Medical staff on the flight sedated her, she says, and she was unconscious by the time she landed and was taken to University Medical Center. There she spent 31 days in a coma before waking up and learning 70 percent of her skin was missing.

Doctors at the medical center determined Hall-Hood suffered from toxic epidermal necrolysis, which the Merck Manual Home Health Handbook says is the same as Stevens-Johnson syndrome but occurs on more than 30 percent of the body. Stevens-Johnson syndrome generally affects no more than 10 percent of the body. Both are caused by reactions to medicine or bacterial contamination and essentially have the same effect, according to the handbook.

Hall-Hood seeks punitive damages for deceptive trade, deceit by concealment, product liability, defective design, breach of warranty and negligent representation.

She is represented by Tracy Eglet with Eglet, Wall & Christiansen.

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