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Topamax Associated With Birth Defects

What Is Topamax?

Topamax, also known by its generic name, topiramate, is a prescription anticonvulsant manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Topiramate is prescribed to treat migraine headaches and epilepsy.

Despite a known correlation between birth defects and topiramate, Janssen Pharmaceuticals had been promoting the drug without warning women of childbearing age of the risks.

Topamax & Product Liability Law

This is not the first time Janssen Pharmaceuticals has come under fire for their marketing of Topamax. In 2008, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (then known as Ortho-McNeil) was promoting “off-label” or unapproved uses of Topamax, such as bipolar disorder and alcohol dependency. Ortho-McNeil had been enlisting doctors to join sales representatives in promoting “off-label” uses of the prescription drug.

Two years later, Ortho-McNeil agreed to pay a $6.14 million fine for the illegal promotion of Topamax. Later that year, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay $75.37 million for similar allegations under the Federal False Claims Act.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals Failed To Warn Of Birth Defect Risks

In March of 2011, a study was conducted that found that women who took Topamax while pregnant were 21 times more likely to give birth to a child with oral cleft defects than those who did not take topamax. Since women were not warned of these dangers before taking the drug, they may be entitled to compensation for their child’s injuries.

Cleft Lip and Palate Defects

Such was the case for Haley Powell in 2013. Powell was prescribed Topamax due to her migraines and hand tremors, and had been taking the drug for over a year before becoming pregnant with her son, Brayden Gurley, in 2007. Powell, unaware of the risk continued taking topiramate throughout her pregnancy. Brayden was born with a cleft lip and nasal malformations that will require him to have at least 5 surgeries before he reaches age 21.

Brayden’s family filed suit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and a jury awarded them $11 million to cover future medical expenses, and non-economic losses.

Has Your Family Suffered Because Of A Topamax Prescription?

Powell, and a number of plaintiffs throughout the United States allege that, if Janssen Pharmaceuticals had adequately warned about the risks associated with taking Topamax, they would have chosen a different treatment option.

If you or someone in your family has taken Topamax while pregnant, and the child was born with cleft lip, cleft palate, or other birth defects, give Schultz & Myers a call at 314-444-4444 to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your child’s associated medical costs.

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