Recently, it was announced that a Pennsylvania court of appeals had decided to uphold a $3 million verdict in a product liability lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals for birth injuries caused by its antiepileptic drug Topamax. Janssen, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, failed to report the dangerous side effects of the drug to doctors and consumers.
In 2014, the Anderson family filed a lawsuit on behalf of their daughter, who was born with bilateral cleft palate and lip in 2008. The jury found that Janssen, and its parent company J&J, had not done enough to warn people about the potentially hazardous side effects of taking Topamax during the first trimester of pregnancy, such as cleft palate and lip.
The Anderson child has had to endure 14 separate procedures and several surgeries. She also suffers from speech impediments, hearing problems and is reportedly bullied by other children for her appearance and speech.
Janssen argued that they could not change the warning label on the medication without the approval of the FDA, but the jury and the appeals court agreed that the pharmaceutical company should have sent out warnings anyway, regardless of the labeling issue.
The jury awarded $1.5 million to the Anderson’s daughter and the other $1.5 million to the Anderson family so that they can continue to provide their daughter with the care that she needs for the foreseeable future.
Topamax was created to alleviate symptoms such as migraines in adults and some kinds of seizures. According to the Antiepileptic Drug Registry, babies who are exposed to Topamax in utero during the first trimester have a nearly 5 percent chance of being born with oral birth defects.
The Atlantic City product liability lawyers at Targan & Pender PC have years of experience fighting for families and children harmed by drug defects or other hazardous products.