Depakote Birth Defects
Helping Those Dealing with Depakote-Related Birth Defects
For many years, doctors have prescribed Depakote (valproate semisodium or divalproex sodium) for the treatment of bipolar disorder, seizures and migraine headaches.
However, serious side effects have been linked to the medication when it is used by women before or during their pregnancy, including causing birth defects in their children such as spina bifida, cleft palate and lower IQs.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a series of safety warnings about Depakote and related valproate medications such as Depacon, Stavzor and Depakote ER (extended release). The agency urges healthcare professionals to inform all women of childbearing age about these risks.
The Driscoll Firm, LLC, is currently investigating and litigating claims involving children born with birth defects whose mothers used Depakote or related valproate products before or during their pregnancy.
See our $38 million verdict for the family of a child permanently injured by her mother’s use of Depakote while pregnant.
If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered harm associated with Depakote, please contact us to discuss your case in a free consultation.
What Is Our Experience with Drug Injury Cases?
Our firm has been involved in the Depakote litigation, serving our clients in both state and federal court and as local or co-counsel for a number of other very successful firms in the City of St. Louis.
Through the years, we have brought numerous individual and class-action lawsuits on behalf of our clients against major drug companies, including the manufacturers of drugs such as Actos, Pradaxa, Avandia, Yaz and Lipitor.
If you believe that you or a loved one used Depakote while pregnant and believe that birth defects resulted, please let us put our experience to work for you.
How Should Depakote Help You?
Depakote is a drug that is manufactured and sold by Abbott Laboratories. It belongs to a class of drugs called “anticonvulsants.” It is marketed as:
- Depacon (valproate sodium)
- Depakote, Depakote CP, Depakote ER (dilvalproex sodium)
- Depakene (valproic acid)
- Stavzor (valproic acid)
The active ingredient in Depakote helps to increase the brain’s production of a chemical neurotransmitter, GABA, which calms nerves and prevents overstimulation. For this reason, Depakote is often called a “mood stabilizer.”
The FDA has approved Depakote for the treatment of three conditions:
- Bipolar disorder among adults
- Epileptic seizures among adults and children ages 10 and older
- Migraine headaches among adults and children ages 16 and older.
However, in the past, Abbott Laboratories has come under scrutiny for marketing Depakote for unapproved uses. As The Washington Post reports, the company agreed to pay $1.6 billion in criminal and civil fines in 2012 for illegally marketing the drug for using in sedating older patients in nursing homes.
What Problems Are Linked to Depakote?
Although Depakote is a highly prescribed medication, the FDA has issued numerous warnings about the increased risk of serious birth defects in babies who are exposed to valproate sodium during their mothers’ pregnancy. Those side effects include:
- Neural tube defects (including spina bifida and ancephaly)
- Craniofacial defects (including cleft lip and cleft palate)
- Cardiovascular malformations (impacting the heart or blood vessels).
Since 2006, the FDA has required that all prescriptions of Depakote carry a “Black Box” warning about the drug’s birth defects risks. The FDA requires this type of warning only when the agency concludes that a drug’s side effects may cause serious injuries or death.
According to the FDA, “the rates for neural tube defects in babies exposed to valproate during the first trimester are 30 to 80 times higher than the rate for neural tube defects in the general U.S. population.”
More recently, the FDA issued a warning that Depakote and related medications “can cause decreased IQ scores in children whose mothers took them while pregnant.”
The FDA states that women who may bear children should use Depakote only “if it is necessary to manage their medical condition.” Women who either become pregnant or who are planning pregnancy should contact their doctors, the agency says.
Birth defects are not the only side effects linked to Depakote. It has also been associated with suicidal thoughts and behavior, according to the FDA.
How Can Our Experienced Drug Injury Lawyers Help You?
If you suffer from birth defects that you believe were caused by your mother’s use of Depakote before or during her pregnancy, or if you were a Depakote user who gave birth to a child with birth defects, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for the harm you have suffered.
In recent years, hundreds of Depakote birth defects lawsuits have been filed against Abbott Laboratories in state and federal courts across the country.
Most of these lawsuits allege that the drug was defectively designed and inadequately tested, and that the manufacturer failed to give adequate warnings to doctors and patients about the birth defect risks associated with Depakote use during pregnancy.
If you believe that you have suffered this type of harm, The Driscoll Firm can provide a comprehensive review of your case and help you to explore all of your legal options.
We can fully investigate your case, consult with experts and prepare a claim for filing in the proper state for federal court. If your case becomes part of wider national litigation – for instance, a class-action claim is filed, or the lawsuit becomes part of a multidistrict litigation proceeding (MDL) – we will make sure your rights and unique interests are protected.
Throughout your case, we will keep you updated through text messages, e-mail and traditional mail, so you will know what is happening at all times.
Our Firm Is Now Reviewing Depakote Birth Defects Claims
Children born with neural tube defects, cleft palate or other disorders as a result of exposure to Depakote or other valproate medications in utero will likely be saddled with a lifetime of medical care. We want to help.
To speak with an experienced lawyer about the legal rights of those who have suffered injury from the use of Depakote, call The Driscoll Firm today or reach us online. We serve clients across the country. Our consultations are always free.