Multi-million dollar verdict in pharmaceutical birth defect case

Not all prescription medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Pharmaceutical companies are required to disclose any potential side effects that could harm the fetus—or the mother—during pregnancy in order to get FDA approval. Doctors should also discuss how a particular drug could affect a pregnancy with their patient before prescribing it. Sometimes, however, one or both parties fail to properly inform women of the potential birth injuries or birth defects that can occur.

An epileptic woman who took a prescription medication to control her seizures before, during and after pregnancy sued the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug and won close to $11 million dollars in damages. The lawsuit filed in Philadelphia alleged that the company failed to warn that birth defects could occur when the drug was taken during pregnancy. The woman took the prescription anticonvulsant from 2006 to 2011. Her son was born with a cleft palate and lip—birth defects she blames on the drug—in 2008. The defense attorney argued that the case, filed in 2011, should be thrown out because it exceeded Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations; the judge allowed the case because of the woman did not know what caused the birth defects until the year she filed the suit. Ultimately, the jury also sided with the woman and awarded the multi-million dollar verdict. $335,000 was awarded for the boy’s future medical costs; the remainder was for non-economic losses.

While damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits are not always so generous, they can still yield much needed money that can be used for long-term care associated with serious medical conditions caused by a negligent doctor, nurse or even a pharmaceutical company. An attorney can offer more information regarding the merits of a birth injury case.

Source: Legal Newsline Legal Journal, “Jury awards $11 million verdict in Topamax mass tort,” Jon Campisi, Dec. 5, 2013.