Topamax maker Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary have reached an agreement to settle dozens of birth defect lawsuits, all of which allege that side effects of Topamax caused babies exposed to the drug in pregnancy to be born with cleft lip, cleft palate and other malformations. The string of Topamax settlements was announced last week in Pennsylvania state court, effectively resolving 76 birth defect complaints, with at least another 60 cases still pending in Pennsylvania courts. If your child was born with a birth defect and you believe Topamax to be the cause, contact a knowledgeable Topamax lawyer today to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a birth defect lawsuit against J&J and Janssen, in order to pursue financial compensation for your baby’s medical bills.
Specific details of the Topamax settlement agreements were not disclosed by the court, but the decisions come after three “bellwether” Topamax test trials held in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas resulted in multi-million dollar damages awards against J&J and Janssen. In October 2013, a Philadelphia jury awarded $4 million in damages to the family of a baby born with numerous birth defects, followed by a November 2013 case that resulted in an $11 million verdict for a baby born with cleft lip and other deformities, and another case in March 2014, in which a jury awarded the family of a five-year-old boy $3 million in damages for his Topamax birth defects.
Topamax (topiramate) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997, and is now widely-used throughout the United States as a treatment for epilepsy and for the prevention of chronic migraine headaches. However, in the years since its approval, Topamax has been plagued by reports of birth defects among babies born to women who took the anticonvulsant while pregnant, and in 2011, the FDA issued a warning to consumers and the medical community about the risk of oral cleft birth defects among children exposed to the powerful medication during the first trimester of pregnancy. The FDA has since urged healthcare providers to avoid prescribing Topamax to pregnant women or women of childbearing age, to avoid the risk of oral cleft birth defects.
Oral clefts occur when parts of the lip or palate fail to fuse together properly during fetal development, causing malformations ranging from a notched lip to an open groove in the roof of the baby’s mouth that can cause problems with talking and eating. In many cases of cleft lip and cleft palate, the affected baby requires corrective surgery to repair the deformation. If you took Topamax while pregnant, and your child was born with cleft lip, cleft palate, or another serious birth defect, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers harmed by potentially dangerous medications, and can put you in touch with a qualified Topamax attorney who has experience handling birth defect cases.