The National Trial Lawyers Association reports that a Pennsylvania appeals court affirmed a $10.9 million verdict against Janssen Pharmaceuticals involving the anti-seizure drug Topamax that caused birth defects.
Doctors use the medication known as Topamax to combat epilepsy and migraines. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson, appealed a $10.9 million jury verdict secured by plaintiff Hayley Powell. Powell took Topamax, a popular anti-convulsant drug, for several years to help control epileptic seizures.
She became pregnant and ceased use of Topamax when she was two months pregnant, although she alleged that neither Powell nor her doctor were aware of the risks of birth defects in babies of mothers taking Topamax. But Powell’s son was born with a cleft lip and gum line defect that was operated on and still has to undergo speech therapy and consult with plastic surgeons to deal with his deformities.
Janssen argued that the verdict should be set aside because under federal law, Janssen could not change its warning labels without FDA approval. But the appellate court agreed with the jury and found that a drug manufacturer can “strengthen its warning labels” without first securing FDA approval. The appellate court rejected Janssen’s somewhat illogical contention that federal law prevents the company from warning consumers about known risks of its products.
This is a significant victory for women who took Topamax when they were pregnant, fittingly secured by a law firm with all-female ownership.
Brayden & Michael Gurley and Hayley Powell v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Case No 239 EDA 2014, Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Topamax Lawsuits: http://www.drugdangers.com/topamax/lawsuit.html