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Depakote Birth Defects Lawsuit Filed in Illinois

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Chicago, ILRecent revelations, according to a new study, that Depakote use by pregnant women could foster lower IQ scores in their offspring is only the latest in a series of suspected Depakote side effects that are culminating in lawsuits.

According to PRWeb (2/18/13), one of the most recent lawsuits was filed January 25, 2013, at Illinois Southern District Court (Case # 3:2013cv00082). While not identified in the release, the plaintiff is a man from South Carolina and alleges his birth defects were the result of the Depakote his mother ingested while pregnant with him.

Depakote, also known as valproate, is used extensively to help treat and manage epileptic seizures. The drug is also prescribed to treat manic depressive disorder, including bipolar disorder, a condition that seems to be growing in prevalence with each passing decade.

However, Depakote is also prescribed to treat problematic migraine headaches, a condition also generating increased prevalence and affecting a greater number of individuals from both genders and most demographics across North America.

The problem with women of child-bearing age is that Depakote has been associated with Depakote birth defects.

The plaintiff in the Depakote lawsuit referenced above claims his mother ingested valproate for the first months of her pregnancy. The plaintiff was subsequently born with Spina Bifida, and blames his birth defect on the medication.

The latest study with regard to lower IQ test scores was published last month in The Lancet Neurology (1/23/13). The study found that pregnant women who ingest Depakote while they are with child carry a higher risk that their offspring will test with lower IQ scores than children who were not exposed to anti-seizure medications, or for that matter exposed to other medications, but not valproate (Depakote). For the most recent results of the study, children were tested at age six. The same study subjects, it was reported, were also tested at the age of three with similar results. The lower scores appeared not to improve as the children aged.

This appears to support a previous communique released in 2011 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in which the government regulator noted those same study results at age three that showed lower scores in IQ and other cognitive tests in children born of mothers who took Depakote for a variety of reasons, than children whose mothers ingested alternative antiepileptic drugs.

The suspicion and association with birth defects linked to Depakote valproate extends to a host of potential birth defects beyond cognitive issues, including Autism. Physical birth defects such as cleft palate can be corrected, for the most part, with surgery.

However, other suspected Depakote birth defects - such as Spina Bifida, hand malformations and abnormally developed ribs - are harder to treat or not treatable at all.

As with most drugs, the FDA is content with leaving Depakote on the market, as the benefits to patients suffering from epileptic seizures, bipolar disorder or migraine headache outweigh the risks for the greater population. However, in defending the risk/benefit ratio, the FDA is acknowledging that Depakote side effects are a grievous reality for children, as well as heartbreaking for parents.

Plaintiffs in Depakote lawsuits maintain they did not know at the time that valproate could cause Depakote birth defects, and otherwise had no opportunity to make an informed choice as to whether or not to take the drug. The FDA maintains that women who become pregnant - or about to become pregnant - while taking Depakote should discuss the issue with their doctor.

A Depakote lawsuit often results when that conversation fails to happen or is not taken seriously.

READ ABOUT DEPAKOTE BIRTH DEFECT LAWSUITS

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READER COMMENTS

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I have epilepsy and took Sodium Valproate (Epilim, Depakote) while pregnant.
The only warnings present on the Patient Information Leaflet was that you should talk to your doctor before you get pregnant. My doctor told me there was minimal risk and reassured me that it was ok to get pregnant.
My Son is 15 now. He is disabled for life with Fetal Valproate Syndrome (FACS) which displays itself in him as Autism, Speech and Language difficulties, loose limbs, dyspraxia, waxy ears, no awareness of danger or consequence of action and PICA (eating inedible objects). He goes to a Specialist Education School for children with severe learning disabilities and he will never live independently. The services he will require from the UK State will cost approximately £10 Million assuming he lives to the age of 70.
In 2010 my Son was part of a class action to Sue Sanofi Synthelabo for the birth defects their product Epilim had caused. £3.25Million was spent by the UK Government in building the case. 3 weeks before the Litigation was due to begin, legal aid funding was withdrawn because the case probability of success was poor under UK Law.
The case never went to court because no one would fund it, and those who would, couldn't get insurance. My Child had his Human Right of Access to Justice denied because he didn't have enough money. This is what is happening in the UK.
UK Claimants get nothing, US Claimants get pay outs.
I'm now part of a campaign called #FACSaware. We are trying to raise awareness of the harmful effects of Sodium Valproate (Depakote, Epilim).
I was part of a 26 minute film last year, you can see it on youtube, search Sodium Valproate - The Cost, uploaded by afreelancehuman.
This medication is still being prescribed to women of childbearing age in the UK even though the risk is 35-40% of the children exposed will have additional needs.
UK Women are still being denied an informed choice. If I knew before I was pregnant that my child would have such a high risk of a life of suffering and vulnerability, I would have changed my medication and thought about alternative parenting options like Fostering and Adoption. Also Surrogacy is an option.
We weren't told in the UK. The Mothers here in the USA weren't told. All around the world in Australia, France, Sweden, Belgium, UK and USA, women have been denied that information.
The UK government has not made sure that the medicine regulator (MHRA) effectively Safeguards the Public. The FDA in USA issued really strong warnings about Depakote back in 2011 yet the UK government didn't get the MHRA to investigate and issue warnings until November 2013.
UK Campaigners have a meeting in the Houses of Parliament in London on 18th June. Contact Alec Shelbrooke MP for more info.
EU Campaigners are contributing towards the European Medicines Agency review into Sodium Valproate (VPA) and associated products on 27th June in London.
There are UK Charities and support groups who are there for the US Claimants' families when they need some information about their child's health, education and welfare.
I hope these families get a substantial settlement and I hope they know there is always emotional support from your neighbours across the pond.
good luck x

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