Depakote has been used to treat epileptic seizures since 1983. It is a member of a drug class known as anticonvulsants. Depakote has been used by millions to relieve epilepsy, migraines, and manic bipolar episodes. While Depakote has been effective for millions of users, the drug has also allegedly caused severe health complications for others.
Among growing Depakote lawsuit claims, many Depakote users hold the manufacturer Abbott Laboratories responsible for their children’s birth defects. In 2012, federal and state Depakote lawsuits forced Abbott Laboratories to pay more than a billion dollars in penalties for engaging in illegal Depakote marketing.
Illegal Depakote Marketing
Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay $1.6 billion for illegally marketing Depakote from 2001 to 2006. Of the total $1.6 billion sum, Abbott Laboratories will pay $800 million toward civil cases filed against it by state and federal authorities. Additionally, $700 million is for criminal penalties and $100 million will go toward states for consumer protection matters.
The company admitted that it built a “specialized sales force” to market the drug in nursing homes. Depakote was marketed as a sedative to control aggression and agitation in older patients who suffer dementia. However, Depakote only received FDA-approval for treatment of seizures, migraines, and mania from bipolar disorder. Depakote was also marketed with antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia treatment. Clinical trials gave no evidence of efficacy on schizophrenia over the antipsychotic drugs.
Depakote Birth Defects
Among the most serious birth defects from Depakote treatment is birth defects when taken during pregnancy. The FDA first acknowledged these dangers to the public in 2006. Research indicated that birth defects were discovered in 20 percent of pregnant Depakote users. After these findings, the FDA required a black-box warning to be included on the Depakote product packaging.
In 2009, the FDA released a more detailed warning of Depakote side effects. Specifically, it cited the possibility of heart, craniofacial, and neural tube defects in developing embryos. Suicidal thoughts and tendencies from Depakote use were also noted.
Alarming information from the New England Journal of Medicine was published in 2010. The study revealed that six specific birth defects occurred at a high rate when Depakote was consumed during the first trimester of pregnancy. Pregnant Depakote users saw a 12-fold increase in their children being born with spina bifida. The FDA released another Depakote warning in 2012. When compared with the children of non-Depakote users, children who were exposed to Depakote in the womb typically scored lower in IQ tests and other measures of cognitive function.
Depakote Lawsuit Claims
Current Depakote lawsuits focus on the claim that Depakote caused debilitating birth defects in pregnant women. Depakote lawsuit plaintiffs allege that the company failed to warn the public of the full extent of dangers associated with Depakote use. Many allege that Abbott Laboratories was negligent in their duty to protect the public from being harmed from Depakote.
In Illinois federal court in July of 2012, 27 women filed a Depakote lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories. These women all claim that Depakote use during their pregnancies caused birth defects in their children. In January 2013, a South Carolina man filed a Depakote lawsuit. He claims that his spina bifida condition was caused from his mother taking Depakote while he was in the womb.
Filing a Depakote Lawsuit
Depakote lawsuits continue to be filed against Abbott Laboratories. Depakote users who feel that their offspring were harmed by Depakote treatment during pregnancy may be entitled to receive financial compensation from Abbott Laboratories. Similarly, adult children who feel that their birth defects were caused by maternal Depakote use may also be entitled to compensation.
If found responsible, Abbott Laboratories may be obligated to compensate Depakote lawsuit plaintiffs for medical costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering endured due to Depakote use. Those who wish to pursue a claim should speak with an attorney immediately to discuss legal options. An attorney can answer Depakote lawsuit questions and help start the litigation process to protect the rights of those harmed by Depakote and Abbott Laboratories.