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$15 Million Awarded to Woman Who Filed Lawsuit in Illinois against Pharmaceutical for Drug that Causes Birth Defects

Posted by A. Lou Benassi | Jul 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Having a baby is an exciting time for newly expecting parents and their families. However, there are aspects of pregnancy that have proven to be stressful and concerning for both parents and medical professionals alike. A pregnant woman is assigned a medical team comprised of a broad array of professionals that aim to reduce the risk of delivery complications and to maintain the good health of a mother and her baby. Expecting mothers are subjected to specific dietary restrictions that cut out foods, medications and other ingestibles that could potentially hurt them and their unborn child during a pregnancy. In the unfortunate event that a child is born with an injury that was caused by someone else, families have the right to sue the individual, organization or entity that they believe is responsible for these injuries.

A mother from California recently was awarded $15 million for birth injuries inflicted on her son by an antiepileptic drug known as Depakote (divalproex sodium). Upon the delivery of the baby, doctors diagnosed the mother's son with a condition called spina bifida and other debilitating health issues. The jury who ruled in her favor deliberated in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Expecting mother Christina Raquel had suffered from bipolar disorder for most of her life, and she always took Depakote to treat it. Before attempting to take the medication during her pregnancy, she sought information about the medication to learn if it would affect the baby. Raquel said that after thoroughly reading the label and consulting with doctors, she decided to take the medicine. However, shortly after birthing her son, who was born with medical issues, she realized that the drugmaker may have been more aware of the risk of birth defects than what was disclosed on the label. She listed AbbVie, the pharmaceutical company responsible for manufacturing the drug, as a defendant in the suit.

In the lawsuit originally filed in 2015, Raquel accused the drugmaker of knowing that the drug caused birth injuries and refusing to take the medication off of the market. According to key testimony presented by the former chief of the birth defect division for the CDC, the company was, in fact, aware that Depakote increases the risk of spina bifida in fetuses.

Spina bifida occurs when all or a portion of the spinal cord is not developed properly in a fetus. This crippling condition has been known to cause hydrocephalus, bowel and bladder issues, damage to organs, paralysis or fluid buildup in the brain. So far, Raquel's son, who is now 10, has been confined to a wheelchair and has undergone a total of 12 surgeries in his lifetime.

In response to the verdict, AbbVie has not yet decided to appeal. But the manufacturer did release a statement that further defended the company. It claimed that jurors in other cases "have unanimously found that Depakote's label enables doctors to make properly informed decisions about Depakote's demonstrated benefits and the clearly disclosed risk of birth defects.”

As of now, there are approximately 700 similar cases pending across the U.S. against the pharmaceutical company.

Experienced Birth Injury Attorneys

If your baby was injured due to the negligent actions of a company, individual or entity you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Benassi & Benassi today for a consultation.

About the Author

A. Lou Benassi

A. Lou Benassi was born and raised in Taylor Springs, Illinois, a small mining and farming community located near Hillsboro, the county seat of Montgomery County, Illinois...


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