New suit against Abbott Labs over Depakote alleges off-label use

Kelly Holleran Jul. 17, 2012, 5:27am


Residents from varying states allege their children suffered birth defects after the mothers ingested a seizure medication during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Lead plaintiff Jasmine Arrowood and 26 others claim their children suffered from various birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft palate, cleft lip, limb and digital deformities, facial dysmorphism, mental developmental delays, genitourinary malformations and heart defects due to the mothers' ingestion of Depakote during their pregnancies.

Depakote is designed to help control seizures, although its manufacturer, defendant Abbott Laboratories, has also marketed the drug for off-label uses, such as mild depression, bi-polar disorder and chronic pain disorders, such as migraines, according to the complaint filed June 8 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

The medication is a risky one for pregnant women to take because of its propensity to cause various birth defects, the suit states. Even though Abbott knew of the dangers of the drug, it failed to warn the plaintiffs and their doctors of associated risks, the complaint says.

"Even now, when medical science has proven beyond all doubt that one out of every eight or ten babies whose mothers take Depakote during the first weeks of pregnancy will suffer some form of major congenital anomaly, Abbott refuses to state that risk on its product label, instead obliquely referring to a misleading statistic regarding a single specific defect," the suit states.

Because of their mothers' ingestion of the medication, the plaintiffs' children have suffered severe and permanent injuries and experienced physical impairment, disfigurement, pain and suffering, the plaintiffs claim.

They allege strict products liability and negligence against Abbott.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs seek actual damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Christopher Cueto and Michael Gras of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto in Belleville will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-312.

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100 Abbott Park
Lake Bluff, IL 60044

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