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Families Affected by Topamax Birth Defects Awarded Millions in Damages

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Topamax and a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is facing more than 134 pending cases in a single court, as well as other claims nationwide, because of birth defects linked to the anti-seizure medication.

The company has had bad news in recent weeks as two claims that were brought to trial resulted in multi-million dollar jury verdicts for the plaintiff. The verdicts provide hope for plaintiffs with pending claims, but likely make Janssen Pharmaceuticals very nervous about the extent of liability that the company faces. golden-pill-1245005-m.jpg

Our Topamax attorneys in Boston know that the FDA has warned of the increased risk of an oral cleft palate in infants whose mothers take Topamax during pregnancy. The outcomes of the recent claims against Janssen Pharmaceuticals suggest that juries recognize the link between and expectant mother’s dosage and facial defects in newborn infants land seek to provide sufficient compensation for families to cover medical costs and other losses caused by the dangerous drug.

Topamax and Oral Cleft Palate Lawsuits

One recent Topamax case in Philadelphia was resolved. It was one of 134 claims pending in that court. The claim was brought by a stay-at-home mother on behalf of her son, who is now five years old but who was born with a cleft lip. The plaintiff had begun using Topamax more than a year prior to 2007, when she became pregnant with her child. When her son was born, he had a severe cleft lip that also caused nasal deformities. Bloomberg reports that the child faces at least five surgeries before his 21st birthday to repair the deformity and resulting complications. The other case ended in October with a Virginia resident being awarded $4.02 million for losses.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals has indicated an intent to appeal both verdicts. Janssen Pharmaceuticals alleges that the mothers and healthcare providers were familiar with the side effects of the medication prior to taking the medication.

However, while the drug company knew as far back as 1997 that there were animal studies showing an increased risk of oral clefts, the FDA didn’t issue a warning on Topamax until March 4, 2011 when the agency finally suggested that the drug might not be safe for pregnant women.

Prior to the FDA’s alert, the drug label and available information on Topamax that patients were provided may not have adequately conveyed the risk of the drug to women who were taking the drug during pregnancy. Drug companies not only have a legal obligation to ensure that their products are safe when used as intended, but they also have a legal obligation to warn patients of any side effects the medication may cause. When a drug company fails to fulfill its obligations and doesn’t alert patients to risks, the company can be held responsible and made to compensate victims.

The fact that multiple juries have now found that Janssen Pharmaceuticals is liable suggests that the other plaintiffs with pending claims may have a strong case and could perhaps persuade Janssen to begin considering making a settlement offer if the company is not able to successfully appeal the verdicts.

If you were harmed by Topamax, cal the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:
Topamax Lawsuit Ends in $11 Million Verdict for the Plaintiff, Boston Product Liability Lawyer Blog, December 13, 2013.