Were you prescribed Depakote for your migraines, seizure disorder, or mental health symptoms? Did you recently give birth to a child who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, spina bifida, or heart and neural tube defects? As early as 2011, the Food and Drug Administration reported that Depakote use during pregnancy has been linked to lower IQ scores as well as serious birth defects.
If you took Depakote or another form of valproate sodium during pregnancy and your child has a lower-than-expected IQ or suffers from Spina Bifida or another birth defect, you may be entitled to compensation. Not only that, but defective drug lawsuits also send a message to prescription drug manufacturers that they cannot continue to market medications that are known to be harmful. At the law firm of Console & Associates, P.C., we recognize the difficulties your family has gone through and want to help you make a difference. Our team of Depakote lawyers is actively investigating product liability claims against Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depakote. As a part of our investigation, we are scheduling free consultations for parents of children born with birth defects after their mother took Depakote during pregnancy. We can help you understand your rights and explain your legal options.
Valproate is a drug that has been used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder and prevent migraine headaches. Valproate, which is a derivative of the valerian flower, was first developed in 1882; however, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the drug’s anticonvulsant properties were discovered. Since then, it has been widely prescribed to treat patients suffering from seizure disorders, including epilepsy. More recently, doctors began prescribing Valproate to treat bipolar disorder and to prevent migraine headaches. The drug works by blocking certain neurotransmitters and increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.
Valproate products include valproate sodium (Depacon), divalproex sodium (Depakote, Depakote CP, and Depakote ER), valproic acid (Depakene and Stavzor), and their generics. Currently, Abbott Laboratories manufactures Depakote, the most commonly prescribed form of Valproate.
In light of the FDA’s concerns, the federal agency required the manufacturer of valproate medications to include stronger warnings on the drug’s packaging. However, since then, Abbott Laboratories has come under scrutiny for marketing Depakote for unapproved uses. For example, in 2012, Abbott Labs agreed to pay $1.6 billion in criminal and civil fines for illegally marketing the drug as a safe way to sedate nursing home patients.
More recently, the FDA has linked the use of valproate and Depakote during pregnancy to various birth defects, including neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and acephaly. The FDA has also linked valproate use by pregnant women with cleft lip and cleft palate in newborn babies, as well as cardiovascular malformations.
Yes, parents who have a child that was born with a birth defect may be able to bring a product liability claim against Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depakote. Product liability cases are a type of personal injury claim in which someone who was injured by a product seeks to hold the product’s manufacturer financially liable for their injuries. Product liability claims generally fall into one of two categories: those involving defective products and those involving dangerous products that do not contain adequate warnings.
Unlike most other types of personal injury cases, parents bringing a defective drug lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer do not typically need to prove that the manufacturer was negligent. Simply put, if a medication is defective or the product’s packaging fails to adequately warn patients about the dangers the product presents, the manufacturer can be held liable for any resulting injuries.
In the case of Depakote and other forms of Valproate, the cases that have been filed against the company so far are based on “defective design” and “failure to warn” theories.
The first Depakote lawsuit was filed in 2015 by the parents of a boy who was born with Spina Bifida after his mother took Valproate during pregnancy. In its defense, Abbott Laboratories did not deny that Depakote caused the child’s condition but instead claimed that his mother was adequately warned about the risk. The jury accepted Abbott’s defense.
However, just a few months later, a jury in St. Louis ordered Abbott to pay $15 million in compensatory damages and $23 million in punitive damages to the family of a girl who was born with Spina Bifida, again, after her mother took Depakote during pregnancy. Since then, there have been a handful of other successful Depakote lawsuits.
If you took Depakote during pregnancy and are among the many Depakote users who gave birth to a child that was born with a birth defect or suffers from a low IQ, you understandably feel a tremendous sense of frustration and grief. However, given the recent developments in the pending Depakote lawsuits, you are now in a position to take action that could lead to meaningful change—both for your family and society as a whole. At Console & Associates, P.C., we want to help your family pursue justice for everything you’ve been through. If you are interested in learning more about pursuing a Depakote product liability claim against Abbott Laboratories, reach out to an experienced product liability attorney at Console & Associates, P.C. at (866) 778-5500. We are here for you. We will answer your questions and offer you guidance about how you may be able to pursue a claim against the parties responsible for your child’s completely preventable condition.