x-ray spina bifida
Woman files spina bifida lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories

An Illinois mother has filed a lawsuit against Abbott Laboratories alleging that her daughter suffers from a birth defect known as spina bifida due to the drug Depakote® which she had taken during pregnancy. The complaint was filed by Rhealyn Alexander in the St. Clair County Circuit Court on October 17th. She alleges that Abbott Laboratories failed to properly warn that use of Depakote during pregnancy would cause such birth defects.

Spina bifida is a neural defect when vertebrae overlying the spinal cord are not fully formed, therefore remain fused and open. Ms. Alexander’s daughter was born with this tragic defect in October of 2007. The lawsuit filed against the drug maker includes claims of negligence and seeks compensatory damages to cover medical expenses, loss wages, and also legal fees.

Depakote was first approved in the U.S. in 1978 to treat certain forms of epilepsy. However, it has been shown that use of Depakote during pregnancy increases risks of severe birth defects, especially if taken within the first 28 days of pregnancy. Though most women are unaware of their pregnancy during their first trimester, damage caused by Depakote remains likely to occur and damage to the unborn child is irreversible.

The FDA issued a “black box” warning on the drug in 2006 after a study concluded that 20% of pregnant mothers birthed children with birth defects due to taking Depakote. Other birth defects caused by the drug include cleft palate, abnormal skull development, malformed limbs, holes in the heart, and also urinary tract problems.

Abbott Laboratories faces many lawsuits against it during recent months due to similar claims by women that have taken Depakote which caused their child to be born with birth defects. These mothers made the accusation that Abbott Laboratories failed to properly warn about the side effects of taking Depakote during pregnancy.

Abbott Laboratories has agreed to settle the claims made by the federal government, accusing the company of illegally marketing Depakote for uses not approved by the FDA.



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