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Topamax Lawsuits won by Plaintiffs

[ Wednesday, January 29, 2014 ]

Johnson & Johnson lost two important bellwether trials last fall regarding its Jannsen Pharmaceuticals anti-seizure medication Topamax. Philadelphia juries found that two mothers and their doctors were not properly warned about the birth defect dangers of Topamax. They agreed with plaintiffs that Topamax taken during pregnancy can cause deformities such as cleft lip or cleft palate.

Cleft lip or cleft palate occurs when the lip or palate fails to fuse. This deformity can cause problems in eating, talking, even in social standing. People born with cleft lip or cleft palate can turn shy and withdraw from society to their great detriment. People suffering from cleft palates are also at higher risk of developing ear infections.

Some 140 Topamax Lawsuits have been filed for children suffering from cleft lip or cleft palate after having been born to mothers who took Topamax in the first trimester of their pregnancy.

A Philadelphia jury awarded Haley Powell $11 million in damages. Ms. Powell’s son was born  in 2007 with a cleft lip and other deformities. The jury’s award is meant to cover medical expenses that will include additional surgeries. Unfortunately for Ms. Powell and her child, the verdict is likely to be appealed by defense. Virtually all such verdicts are appealed by defense, and most are eventually lowered or even thrown out by appeals courts.

The verdict in the Powell case is the second win in two trials for plaintiffs against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. In October 2013 a jury awarded a mother and her child $4.02 million in a Topamax lawsuit. Trial records in that case showed Janssen  withheld Topamax safety information from both consumers and medical professionals.

That jury awarded $4 million to April Czimmer, whose son suffers several birth defects that the jury agreed occurred as a result of Ms. Czimmer’s taking Topamax while pregnant. At trial, Ms. Czimmer testified she took Topamax during six months of her pregnancy. Her attorneys charged, and the jury agreed, that Janssen failed to give adequate warnings about Topamax birth defect risks.

Johnson & Johnson argues in this case and others that it has provided adequate warnings regarding Topamax and pregnancy.

The FDA in 2011 issued a warning about Topamax increasing the risk of oral cleft birth defects. The agency warned doctors not to prescribe the drug to pregnant women, or to women who could become pregnant.

Topamax was approved by the FDA in 1997 and has been available since 2006. Topamax is approved for treating epilepsy, migraine headaches, weight loss.

If you or someone you love has been injured by Topmax, contact a Topamax Lawyer at Freese and Goss, or email us for a free legal consultation.