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Judge Orders Drug Manufacturer to Turn over Emails in Depakote Investigation

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Abingdon, VAThe Chicago-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Abbott Laboratories was ordered to hand over some of its chief executive's emails to federal investigators after it was alleged that the company improperly marketed the antiseizure drug Depakote.

The US Attorney's Office for the Western district of Virginia accused Abbott of prescribing Depakote for the treatment of agitation and aggression in the elderly - a use for which the medication has not been approved by the FDA - making the promotion of the drug as such tantamount to healthcare fraud.

The probe is only one in a string of troubles that have befallen the popular medication. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study that listed valproate, the generic name for Depakote, among a number of anticonvulsant medications that roughly double the risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts and attempts.

In addition, the FDA recently reiterated a warning about the increased risk of birth defects in expectant mothers who use the drug by including a specialized guide to all users of valproate medications.

While officials with the US Attorney's office in Virginia neglected to comment to the Wall Street Journal, a spokesman for Abbott told the news provider that the company will continue to comply with the investigation as it unfolds.

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