Depakote is a prescription medication prescribed to thousands of patients for the medical treatment of bipolar mania, migraine headaches, and epilepsy. Unfortunately, Depakote has been linked to an increased risk of birth defects for babies exposed to Depakote in the womb. Common birth defects may include deformed limbs, skulls, cleft palate, and spina bifida.
Depakote belongs to a class of medications known as anticonvulsants and has been effective at treating several conditions such as bipolar mania, migraine headaches, and epilepsy by modifying certain substances in a user’s brain. While certain side-effects are minor and common such as drowsiness, diarrhea, constipation, runny nose and memory loss, research also indicates that taking Depakote while pregnant can have serious side effects on your unborn child. Information about potential injuries to unborn children exposed to Depakote forced the FDA to issue updated warnings about the medication. According to the allegations, Depakote, more than other antiepileptic drugs, is likely to cause serious malformations in unborn children. According to the lawsuit filed against Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Depakote, the company failed in their due diligence to notify users of the potential risks of their product to the unborn, and the company did not take proper steps to warn doctors and women about these risks. Risks, which can include developmental delays, cleft palates, cleft lip, spina bifida, facial dysmorphism, genitourinary (reproductive organ) malformations, and heart defects, can be very serious and life-threatening for children.
According to birth defect lawsuits, claimants argue Abbott Laboratories should have known about the risks of their product for pregnant women and that Depakote was an unsafe and defective product. Claimants also suggest Abbott Laboratories had an obligation to provide more information to users about the risks associated with their product. The lawsuits also allege that Abbott Laboratories promotion of their product showed willful and wanton disregard for the safety of the public. More recent research about Depakote also suggests that although a child may not be born with a birth defect, the use of the drug may also increase cognitive disabilities such as autism or lower IQ. Other developmental delays can include lower memory and verbal skills, and executive function.
Located in Illinois, Abbott Laboratories markets, manufactures, and distributes an estimated twenty drugs in the United States. Founded in Chicago by Wallace Calvin Abbott in 1888, the company has grown to generate more than $35 billion in annual revenues, operating in more than one-hundred and thirty counties. The company also employees 90,000 employees worldwide. Abbott Laboratories produces a wide range of prescription medications including Humira used for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, Norvir for the treatment of HIV, and Depakote for the treatment of bipolar mania and epilepsy.
The multimillion dollar company had an inauspicious start. In fact, Dr. Abbott founded Abbott Alkaloidal Company through the innovation of creating dosimetric granules from part of a medicinal plant, generally an alkaloid. With the invention of his pills he was able to sell specific doses of medicines to patients. Over the next one hundred years Abbot Laboratories and its employees focused on international expansion, forming its first international office in Montreal Canada in 1931. Since then the company has embarked on a joint venture into Japan and expansion projects throughout Europe in France, Italy, and England.
Product Liability laws require companies who decide to manufacture, market, and sell medications to responsibly educate users about the possible destructive symptoms of their medications. In 2009, the FDA required Abbott Laboratories to add a warning to Depakote about the potential risks if used during pregnancy. The FDA also notified healthcare professionals that they should warn their patients about the risks associated with Depakote. Unfortunately, many women used the drug in the first trimester before they realized they were pregnant.
As of 2012 there was a class action lawsuit comprised of twenty-seven women who had children born with birth defects that are believed to be linked to the use of Depakote. Although this case is still pending, the statute of limitations to file new claims is near. If you have a child born with severe birth defects because you took Depakote, you may be allowed to seek compensation for your child’s injuries. It is important to consult with a lawyer immediately if you have questions about your case.