Jury Awards $23 Million in Birth Defects Case
One of the largest verdicts in the history of defective drug cases came last year, when a Missouri jury awarded $23 million to a family whose daughter was born with birth defects related to the mother’s Depakote use.
Drug manufacturer Abbot Laboratories currently faces about 800 lawsuits stemming from the popular anti-seizure medication and its link to birth defects. The drug’s popularity peaked in 2007 with over $1.5 billion in sales. But at roughly the same time, the federal government insisted that the manufacturer include additional warnings on the label; in 2010, the New England Journal of Medicine published a major study on the subject. Two years later, Abbot Laboratories paid $1.6 billion to settle state and federal government claims regarding deceptive marketing practices.
With regard to the St. Louis lawsuit and verdict, a company spokesperson insisted that the plaintiff “made an informed decision” to take Depakote during her pregnancy.
Drug companies spend an average of $2.5 billion to bring a new prescription drug to market. That cost has more than doubled since 2003, largely because the Food and Drug Administration recently changed its procedures to close certain manufacturer-friendly loopholes in the process. Due to this expense, salespeople are under enormous pressure to sell as much product as possible in order to recoup costs and show a profit.
As a result, the companies often engage in illegal practices to promote new drugs. Some of them include:
Deceptive Marketing: While drug manufacturers and other producers are allowed to stretch the truth a bit in their presentations, it is unlawful to knowingly make false claims about the products safety or effectiveness.
Insufficient Warnings: Some manufacturers do not warn consumers about possible adverse side effects, typically by commissioning their own “studies” that say the drug is safe and effective.
Off-Label Use: Sometimes, the FDA approves drugs for limited use in limited circumstances. To increase sales, the manufacturer encourages doctors to prescribe the product in experimental situations.
Due to the large number of victims, defective drug cases are often consolidated into class actions or in multi-district litigation, meaning that jury awards are often quite high. Punitive damages are often assessed in addition to economic damages; for example, the above award included $8 million in punitive damages.
Dangerous drugs are on the shelves all over South Central Texas. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in personal injury cases.