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Jury Awards $11 Million in Topamax Birth Defect Case

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.