A federal lawsuit has been filed by a man who claims he suffered from birth defects as a result of his mother taking the medication Depakote while she was pregnant with him.
Depakote, or valproate, is a medication used to treat epileptic seizures, manic depressive disorder and migraine headaches. However, its use by pregnant women has been associated with side effects that include birth injuries such as spina bifida, cleft palate, genitourinary malformations and cognitive defects.
The plaintiff, Jasper James, claims that his mother took valproate during the early months of her pregnancy and he was subsequently born with spina bifida. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, naming Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depakote, as the defendant. The plaintiff seeks a jury trial and damages in excess of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs.
The lawsuit accuses Abbott Laboratories of inadequate testing, defective design, failure to properly warn, and distribution of a medication that presented dangers to the health of the unborn. The complaint claims that the defendant sought to downplay the risks of the drug.
According to allegations in the lawsuit, medical research has determined that other anti-epileptic drugs are less risky than Depakote for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. One study found the rate of birth defects to be ten times greater with Depakote than with other similar drugs. The complaint claims that the defendant was aware of birth defects associated with Depakote on or before the date it began selling the drug in the United States.