State Superior Court Upholds $11M Topamax Injury Verdict Against Janssen Pharmaceuticals

According to a state superior court, the parents of a child who sustained serious birth defects because the mother took Topamax while she was pregnant is entitled to $11.6 million from Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The ruling strike’s down Janssen’s appeal to an earlier jury verdict.

The child’s mother, Haley Powell, started taking Topamax in 2005 after suffering from an epileptic seizure and losing consciousness. Two years later, doctors weaned her off the drug after finding out she was pregnant.

Ultrasound results showed that the child had a cleft lip. Brayden was also born with gum line defects. He underwent surgery to repair the cleft but he now has a permanent scar extending from his lip to his nose. Brayden also has a speech disability. He may have to undergo gum-graft surgery and rhinoplasty.

In their Topamax birth defect case, Brayden’s parents said that Janssen failed to warn them and their doctors about the risks involved with taking Topamax during pregnancy. Upholding the jury verdict, the Pennsylvania Superior Court found that the child’s suffering, pain, and loss were substantial. The three-judge panel also noted Wyeth vs. Levine, which was a U.S. Supreme Court case, in which the justices determined that Janssen could have modified its warning on the drug to alert consumers to the risks. Janssen had tried to argue that it would have needed the Food and Drug Administration’s permission to modify the label.

Other serious Topamax side effects that have been linked to babies whose moms used the drug during the prenatal, first-trimester include cleft palate, fetal deformities, genital defects, and skeletal deformities. According to a study published in 2008 in the medical journal Neurology, moms who took Topamax during early pregnancy were 11 times more likely than other women to have a baby with a palate or cleft lip defect. They were 14 times more likely than other moms to have a baby with a genital defect.

In other Topamax news, new research indicates that Topiramate (its generic name) can exacerbate or trigger eating disorder symptoms in certain adolescents. Topamax is also used to treat migraines.

While the drug is known to act as an appetite-suppressant, the findings of this study, published online last week in Pediatrics, noted that several teen girls were diagnosed with serious eating disorders only after they started on topiramate therapy. Lead study investigator Dr. Jocelyn Lebow, PhD, of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine said that while she doesn’t believe that topiramate should never be used by young kids or teens, she noted the importance of the possible risk that a serious eating disorder might be triggered. Lebow said that patients with active eating disorders should not start taking the medication. A serious eating disorder that is not treated can prove deadly.

Our Boston Topamax injury lawyers are here to help children and families obtain the drug defect compensation that they are owed. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.

Topamax Makers on the Hook for Baby’s Cleft Lip, Courthouse News, March 25, 2015


Topamax, FDA


More Blog Posts:

Judge rules that $11 million Topamax birth defect award will stand, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, May 9, 2014

First Risperdal injury trial against Johnson & Johnson results in $2.5M Verdict, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, March 5, 2015

Father Sues Walgreens, Abbot Laboratories For Wrongful Death Involving Diabetic Test Strips, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 9, 2015

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