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SC Couple Keeps $11.6 Million in Topamax Birth Defect Damages Case

$11.6 Million Award for Topamax Birth Defect Damages Will Not Be Overturned

TopamaxA state Superior Court ruled in Pennsylvania that a South Carolina couple will be able to keep the damages awarded by the jury for birth defects caused by Topamax.

Topamax, a drug used to treat epilepsy, has been tied to birth defects in children born to women who took the drug.  Many contend that birth defects occurred even if they stopped taking it during their pregnancy.

Haley Powell and Michael Gurney filed their Topamax birth defect lawsuit in 2011. Powell began taking Topamax as prescribed when, as a teenager in South Carolina, she began to have seizures. When she learned she was pregnant in 2007, she stopped taking the prescription drug, and her son was born in 2008. He had a cleft lip, which has since been mostly corrected with surgery, but Powell and Gurney both state that the child has speech difficulties and scarring which may require future corrective surgeries.

Powell and Gurney contend that Topamax caused the child’s cleft lip, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, failed to warn doctors or patients taking the drug that there could be dangerous, long-lasting side effects. Powell said that at the time she was prescribed Topamax, the drug was categorized by the FDA as a Pregnancy Category C drug, meaning Topamax seemed to correlate to birth defects in animal fetuses, but “no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans…so pregnant women were advised to weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks” of using Topamax.

The couple did not learn about the actual potential dangers to humans until 2011, when the FDA issued a warning about birth defects associated with Topamax prescriptions.

A Philadelphia court awarded $10.95 million in damages in late 2013, with $700,000 in delay damages. Janssen tried to appeal the Topamax verdict, but the judge said his court found “no basis to disturb the jury’s verdict.”

Topamax Injuries and Birth Defects

Between January 2007 and December 2010, Topamax was one of the most prescribed anti-epilepsy drugs, with 32 million prescriptions issued in that three-year period. However, in March 2011, the FDA released a statement warning about potential birth defect dangers related to Topamax.

A UK study found an increased rate of birth defects related to Topamax prescriptions, which gave children a 21.3% increased chance of a cleft lip or palate to a 16-fold increase in overall birth defects when the mother took Topamax throughout the pregnancy. In addition, the North American Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry found that women who took Topamax during the first trimester of pregnancy were 21 times more likely to give birth to a child with a cleft palate or lip.

The Strom Law Firm Is Investigating Topamax Birth Defect Cases in South Carolina

The dangerous drug and pharmaceutical liability attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand that prescriptions are designed to help patients, but too many feature dangerous or debilitating side-effects that the pharmaceutical company fails to warn doctors and consumers about. The Strom Law Firm offers free consultations regarding the dangers of Topamax, to see if you have a personal injury case. Contact us today for help. 803.252.4800



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