Finding out that your newborn baby has a life threatening condition can be devastating. Christina Raquel gave birth to a son in 2007. He was born with birth defects including spina bifida. It was later determined that the birth defects were a result of Depakote. This was a drug she was prescribed while pregnant to manage bipolar depression.
The dangers with Depakote
Depakote, a drug used to treat various psychiatric conditions has been on the market since 1967. It is distributed under various brand names globally including Valproate in the UK and Depakine in France. It was approved for use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 for the treatment of Epilepsy.
The drug and various products that contain it also received approval for use in treating seizures, prevention of migraine headaches as well as manic episodes that are associated with bipolar disorder. However, the drug was also being used for other unapproved purposes such as the treatment of other psychiatric conditions.
In 2009, the FDA issues a warning to doctors of the effects of exposure of fetuses to Depakote. The warning linked the drug to various birth defects including defects of the neural tube, cardiovascular system and development of the head and face. The warning sought to discourage doctors from prescribing the drug to women who still had childbearing potential. Doctors were asked to use alternative therapies.
In the years following the release of the FDA warning, various lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of the drug, AbbVie Inc. The first cases were filed in 2010 and moved to federal court in 2012. Nine cases that were filed in Indiana were dismissed as a result of the State’s 10-year statute of repose.
The recent verdict in favor of Stevie Gonzalez’s claim, however, offers hope to parents seeking justice for their children. The 10 year old boy born with various defects had undergone 12 surgeries by the time the verdict was announced. He is confined to a wheelchair and is expected to continue undergoing treatment for his defects. His mother sued the makers of Depakote for compensation for past and future medical expenses and was awarded $15 million.
There are over 700 pending lawsuits against the makers of the drug in US courts alone. This landmark verdict gives hope to parents and children affected by the drug’s side effects.