Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Abbott Laboratories and Abbvie Inc. These lawsuits claim that Depakote, a drug manufactured and marketed by the Defendants, caused serious birth defects in children born to women taking it during pregnancy. Such birth defects include spina bifida, heart defects, limb deformities, developmental delay, cognitive deficits and behavioral disorders such as autism/autism spectrum disorder. Depakote is only FDA-approved for certain types of seizures, manic episodes of bipolar disorder and migraine prophylaxis. To date, Depakote has generated billions of dollars in sales for Abbott.
Jury Verdict: Depakote Caused Birth Defects
One of the allegations made on behalf of the plaintiff, 12-year-old Maddison Schmidt, was that Abbott inadequately warned of the increased risk of birth defects from Depakote exposure in-utero. On May 26, 2015, a St. Louis court ruled in Ms. Schmidt’s favor. The jury unanimously awarded her $15 million in compensatory damages. A $23 million punitive damages verdict was also given.
Abbott’s $1.5 Billion Settlement with the U.S. Government
In 2012, Abbott pleaded guilty to criminal and civil charges by the U.S. government that it illegally promoted and misbranded Depakote. Abbott was required to pay $1.5 billion as part of a settlement of those charges. This settlement followed an investigation by the Department of Justice, which found that Abbott promoted drugs for unapproved uses, despite many failed efficacy studies, while targeting elderly dementia and schizophrenia patients.
BURG SIMPSON is currently representing cases across the country in which women who took Depakote while pregnant gave birth to children with serious birth defects.