A lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Depakote, an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug. The suit alleges that plaintiffs suffered from birth defects, including spina bifida, due to their mothers’ use of the drug during pregnancy.
The lawsuit, Battle, et al vs. Abbot Laboratories, was filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court on June 1, 2012. The lead plaintiff, Nicholas Battle, was born with spina bifida, as were several of the other plaintiffs. Other plaintiffs suffer from different types of neural tube defects. The lawsuit claims that the birth defects were caused by the use of Depakote during the early stages of pregnancy.
The plaintiffs allege that valproic acid, the active ingredient in Depakote, can cause birth defects if used during the first trimester of pregnancy. The lawsuit claims that Abbott Laboratories misled doctors about the dangers of the drug for pregnant women. The suit seeks damages for medical expenses, loss of normal life and future lost income.
Depakote is commonly prescribed to treat migraines, seizures and bipolar disorder. The FDA approved its use in treating epilepsy in 1983. In 1995, its use was approved for treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, and in 1996, it was approved for treatment of migraines.
Spina bifida is a congenital disorder caused by the embryonic neural tube failing to completely close, and it can result in serious spinal injuries. The birth defect is one of the most common, with a worldwide incidence of between one and two cases for each 1,000 births. The incidence in the United States is 0.7 per 1,000 births.