Mother Awarded $11 Million in Topamax Case
The mother of a now 5-year old boy who was born with a cleft palate and lip that she claims was caused by her use of the anti-seizure drug Topamax was awarded $11 million by a Philadelphia jury. The South Carolina woman filed suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in November 2011, claiming that Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately warn patients of the risk of birth defects when the drug Topamax was taken during pregnancy. Injury Details Haley Powell was prescribed Topamax to treat epilepsy, and took the drug from March 2006 until May 2011. In May 2008, Powell gave birth to her son, Brayden Gurley, who was born with a cleft palate and lip, requiring surgery to repair the facial deformity. According to court documents, Powell was never informed of the risks of taking Topamax during pregnancy. Risks of Topamax During Pregnancy In March 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that there was a link between the use of Topamax during pregnancy and the incident of cleft palate and lip in babies born to women who used the medication. Cleft palate and lip range from a small notch in the lip to a groove that runs into the roof of the mouth and nose. Severe forms of the condition can lead to difficulty talking or eating, and chronic ear infections. Surgery is often required for children with the condition. The jury determined that the lack of notification to Powell’s doctor regarding this potential problem constituted negligence on the part of Janssen, and that the negligence brought about harm to the child. Jury Award The jury awarded Powell $10,620,000 for non-economic damages related to her son’s injury, and $335,000 for future medical costs. Janssen filed for post-trial relief, claiming among other things that the damages were excessive, citing that the award for non-economic damages were punitive in nature, and were more than 30 times the award for medical costs. Judge George Overton denied the defendant’s motion, allowing the jury verdict to stand. When a pharmaceutical company fails to warn patients of possible side effects stemming from the drugs they manufacture, and that failure is suspected in an injury or death, a product liability claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an injury or death that may have been caused or worsened by the actions of a pharmaceutical company.