Abbott Laboratories is facing around 800 lawsuits involving Depakote birth defects, but not as part of a class action. Instead, they are individual lawsuits that have been coordinated in Illinois, Missouri, and other courts nationwide.

Depakote and Birth Defects

Depakote (valproic acid) is an anti-epileptic drug that is used to control seizures, migraine headaches, and stabilize mood swings. It is also a Pregnancy Category X drug linked to major birth defects, such as:

  • Spina bifida
  • Cleft lip / cleft palate
  • Heart defects
  • Microcephaly
  • Low IQ
  • Developmental delays
  • Craniofacial defects
  • Skull defects
  • And more

Depakote and Spinal Defects

The problem with Depakote is that it causes a loss of the vitamin folic acid (folate). This vitamin is necessary for a baby to develop a normal brain and spinal cord in the first few weeks of pregnancy — before most women realize they are pregnant. Folate deficiencies are a risk-factor for neural tube defects like spina bifida, anencephaly, microcephaly, intellectual disabilities, and miscarriage.

What is the Risk of Birth Defects?

Depakote has had a “Black Box” warning label about a 1-2% risk of spina bifida — which translates to a 2,060% increased risk compared to women who do not use Depakote — since 1983. Depakote is by far the most dangerous anti-epileptic drug on the market for pregnancy. It is estimated to caused birth defects in at least 20% of pregnancies.

$38 Million Depakote Birth Defect Lawsuit Award Upheld

In November 2016, judges in Missouri rejected an appeal of a jury’s $38 million award to Maddison Schmidt, a girl who was born with major birth defects after her mother used Depakote during pregnancy.

Depakote Settlement Agreement Ends Missouri Trial

In July 2016, Abbott Laboratories paid an out-of-court settlement on the 10th day of a Depakote trial in Missouri. The trial involved a boy named “B.F.” who was born with spina bifida in 2005, despite his mother discontinuing Depakote as soon as she realized she was pregnant — Case No. 4:12-cv-01760

Abbott Pays $1.1 Billion Depakote Marketing Settlement

In 2012, Abbott Laboratories pled guilty and paid a $1.1 billion settlement to the Justice Department to resolve an investigation into “off-label” marketing of Depakote. The settlement did not involve birth defect claims. Instead, Abbott was accused of illegally advertising Depakote as a mood-stabilizer in hard-to-handle elderly people with dementia.

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