A Pennsylvania Superior Court panel has decided to uphold an $11.65 million verdict awarded to a couple who claim the epilepsy drug Topamax caused their son to be born with a cleft lip, The Patriot News reports. The court ruling denied an appeal from Topamax manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which sought to overturn the ruling.
The couple filed a Topamax lawsuit in 2011, in which they claimed the mother’s use of Janssen’s anti-seizure drug Topamax led to birth defects in their son, who was born in 2008. The mother began taking Topamax when it was prescribed to her in 2005 to help with her seizures. She stopped taking it in 2007 after she found out she was pregnant. The couple allege that Janssen did not adequately warn patients and doctors about the risk of birth defects posed by Topamax. In November 2013, a Philadelphia County jury awarded the couple $10.95 million; a county judge later increased the award by more than $700,000 in delay damages.
Only a month before this ruling, a $4 million verdict was returned in another Topamax lawsuit. The plaintiff, who took Topamax for six months during her pregnancy, claimed the drug resulted in her child being born with a clef lip. This particular Topamax lawsuit marked the first of 134 such lawsuits pending in state court in Philadelphia. Hundreds of others have been filed across the country.
Topamax lawsuits began being filed after several studies demonstrated that Topamax poses an increased risk of birth defects like cleft lip and cleft palate. One study, based on the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry, found the risk of birth defects was 21 times higher for babies whose mothers used Topamax. This risk was also found to be five to seven times higher than that posed by other prescription epilepsy drugs. The UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register published a study with similar findings, linking the use of Topamax during pregnancy to a 16-times increased risk of birth defects. A third, smaller study demonstrated a more than ten-times increase of birth defects compared to other anti-seizure drugs.
Be sure to consult your doctor or health care provider whenever you decide to change treatment plans. If you or a loved one used Topamax during pregnancy and gave birth to a child with birth defects, contact the pharmaceutical lawyers at Lopez McHugh for a free legal consultation. You may be eligible for compensation through a Topamax lawsuit.