Judge Rules that $11 Million Topamax Birth Defect Award Will Stand

The $11 million ruling awarded by a jury in a Topamax birth defect case will stand, according to National Trial Lawyers. Court of Common Pleas Judge George W. Overton denied a motion by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals for a new trial, upholding the original award for the family of Brayden Gurley.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since issued a warning regarding serious birth defects in infants caused by expectant mothers using Topamax. Severe cases of cleft lip, cleft palate and other deformities have been widely reported. However, the Gurley family accused Janssen Pharmaceuticals of “operating in a culture of secrecy, intentionally withholding concerns about Topamax known to the company at the time, together with safety reports that suggested an association between Topamax and birth defects, dating back to 2003,” according to Bloomberg News. It is possible that the pharmaceutical company knew about the issues as far back as 1997, but kept these warnings private.

Topamax is prescribed as an anti-seizure medication that is also used to treat chronic migraines. It is generally prescribed in low doses to start, slowly increasing over time as the doctor sees fit. It is a powerful medication with multiple other serious side effects including:
• Eye problems (sudden decrease in vision with or without eye pain and redness; secondary angle closure glaucoma)
• Decreased sweating and increased body temperature (fever). This is sometimes serious enough to require hospitalization
• Metabolic acidosis (increased levels of acid in the blood can cause soft or brittle bones)
• Suicidal thoughts or actions (as with most anti-epileptic drugs)
• Confusion, difficulty concentrating, issues with attention, memory, or speech, depression or mood problems, tiredness, and sleepiness.
(Source: Topamax Safety Information)
Judge Overton took into account that the child has extreme difficulty speaking, which is made even worse by scar tissue that has developed after Brayden’s multiple surgeries. Moving forward, he may still require oral surgery, dental surgery, speech therapy, auditory evaluations, and the potential for rhinoplasty, according to the National Trial Lawyers.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals attempted to argue that cleft palates are a fairly prevalent birth defect in in mothers who were not prescribed the medication, and that the expectant mother should have been aware of the safety risks by 2007, when Haley Powell learned she was pregnant. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and found the drug company had “failed to warn the stay-at-home mother of the risks associated with Topamax and potential birth defects.”

Janssen appealed the ruling, but Judge Overton upheld the original $11 million award, and added over $700,000 in delay damages. “Given the injuries that will plague Brayden Gurley into adulthood, the award determined by the jury can hardly be said to be excessive,” Overton explained.

Pharmaceutical companies have the absolute responsibility to put the health and safety of patients above all else. They must warn patients of potential side effects and safety hazards. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our Boston Topamax injury lawyers a> represent adults and the families of children that suffered serious side effects from taking the medication. Drugs shouldn’t cause serious injury to those who take them and if there are serious side effects then information and warnings of the risks involved need to be clear and available to patients before they begin taking the medication. Contact our Massachusetts drug defect law firm today.
Our team of product liability and drug injury attorneys have decades of experience handling all types of drug injury cases.

Read the full article at National Trial Lawyers

Contact Information