Hundreds of Depakote lawsuits have been filed against Abbott Laboratories, but not as part of a class action. Instead, they are individual lawsuits involving birth defects like spina bifida, cleft palate, and heart defects.
What is Depakote?
Depakote (valproic acid) is an anti-seizure drug that is used to treat epilepsy, migraines, mood swings, and more. It is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories and has been sold in the U.S. since 1978. Depakote was re-classified as a Pregnancy Category X drug in May 2013, following decades of increased evidence of birth defect risks.
Depakote and Birth Defects
The problem is that Depakote causes folic acid (folate) vitamin deficiencies, which is a risk-factor for neural tube defects like spina bifida. These defects occur in the first few weeks of pregnancy — so even if a woman stops taking Depakote as soon as she learns she is pregnant, she might still have a baby with a birth defect.
What is the Risk?
An estimated 1 in 20 babies (1-2%) who are exposed to Depakote in the womb are born with spina bifida. This translates to a 2,060% increased risk of spina bifida compared to non-exposed babies. At least 20% of babies who are exposed to Depakote in the womb are born with a birth defect. Studies have shown Depakote to be one of the most dangerous drugs to take while pregnant due to birth defects.
$1.1 Billion Depakote Settlement
In 2012, the Justice Department announced that Abbott would plead guilty and pay a $1.1 billion settlement to resolve an investigation into illegal “off-label” promotion of Depakote in elderly dementia patients.
$38 Million Depakote Jury Verdict Survives Appeal
In November 2016, a Missouri jury’s $38 million award to a girl with birth defects due to Depakote survived an appeal by Abbott Laboratories. The verdict was awarded in 2015 to Maddison Schmidt, a 12 year-old girl with spina bifida who is paralyzed from the waist down.
Settlement Ends Depakote Trial in Missouri
In July 2016, Abbott and lawyers for the family of a boy with spina bifida negotiated an out-of-court settlement agreement on the 10th day of trial in Missouri. The boy was born with birth defects despite his mother discontinuing Depakote as soon as she found out she was pregnant.
Birth Defects Linked to Depakote
- Spina bifida
- Cleft lip / cleft palate
- Heart defects
- Low IQ
- Developmental delays
- Craniofacial defects
- Skull defects
- And more