Two Topamax verdicts for plaintiffs came last year. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals was ordered by a Philadelphia jury in November 2013 to pay $11 million* for a case involving the anti-seizure drug Topamax and birth defects; and in a case the month before, a jury ordered the company to pay $4.02 million* for a similar Topamax birth defects case.
*Update: The verdicts are on appeal; so no compensation has been awarded to plaintiffs despite the verdicts.
Topamax in First Trimester
Jurors in November found Janssen failed to properly warn doctors for Haley Powell, who took Topamax in the first trimester of a pregnancy which resulted in her son’s being born with a cleft lip.
An attorney for Ms. Powell said that Janssen had long known that the epilepsy drug Topamax causes debilitating birth defects, yet the company, “intentionally kept this information from physicians and patients.”
The Powell verdict likely surprised defendants, as the case was hand-selected by them to go to trial. It was the second of more than 130 cases pending in Philadelphia over Topamax.
Janssen lost a $4.02 million verdict the month before in a lawsuit brought by a Virginia woman, April Czimmer, for birth injuries suffered by her son. Ms. Czimmer and other plaintiffs are blaming Janssen for failing to adequately warn expectant mothers of Topamax’ risk of causing birth defects that include cleft lip and cleft palate.
Janssen’s attorneys argued that both women were adequately warned of Topamax’ dangers.