A Pennsylvania jury has awarded $11 million to the parents of child born
with congenital defects that were attributed to the mother’s use
of Topamax during pregnancy. The anticonvulsant drug is the subject of
more than 130 lawsuits across the country.
The lawsuits allege that the manufacturer of Topamax, Janssen Pharmaceuticals,
knew about the risk of birth defects associated with the medication but
failed to adequately warn patients. As alleged in the Pennsylvania suit,
“A decade before Janssen got around to changing its label [in 2011],
internal Janssen documents concluded that Topamax can cause birth defects.”
The plaintiff in the most recent case, Haley Powell, was prescribed Topamax
to treat migraines and hand tremors. When she learned she was pregnant,
her doctor advised her to lower her dose. However, neither was aware of
the potential for the drug to cause birth defects, according to the suit.
Powell’s son Brayden was subsequently born with a right unilateral
cleft lip and alveolar defects, which have yet to be resolved. The suit
maintains that he will require multiple surgeries and will likely suffer
from hearing loss, speech difficulties, and dental problems.
The Pennsylvania suit is the second case to make it to trial and the second
judgment against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The jury award includes $335,000
for future health care expenses and $10.6 million for non-economic loss.