Abbott Labs Found Guilty of Causing Spina Bifida

June 9, 2017 – An Illinois jury has ruled in favor of a 10-year old boy and his family this afternoon in a lawsuit brought against Abbott Laboratories, the manufacturer of Depakote.  The child’s mother, who took the drug while pregnant, claimed it was to blame for her child’s severe birth defect of spina bifida. Spina bifida is a neural tube birth defect occurring when vertebrae doesn’t form properly around the baby’s spinal cord.  The lawsuit also claimed that the company knew of the risk in pregnant women to be as high as 10% but failed to warn the medical community and public.

Drug found to be cause of son’s spina bifida

The family has been awarded $15 million to cover the child’s medical expenses and loss of future earnings, which were estimated to be between $10.3 – $13.7 million, and $1.8 million.  The jury declined to levy punitive damages against Abbott.

Christina Requel, the child’s mother, had been prescribed Depakote while pregnant for a severe bipolar disorder. Her treating physicians said the drug label showed the risk of spina bifida at 1-2% but later learned that the risk is actually 10%. The drug is an anti-epilepsy drug used to treat many conditions.

Abbott knew of the risk of spina bifida

Attorneys for the family argued that a conscious decision was made by Abbott to hide the true risk to keep the drug profitable.  Depakote was the first of the Abbott’s drugs to reach $1 billion in sales.

This is the sixth lawsuit over Depakote.  There are currently hundreds of lawsuits filed against Abbott with the majority consolidated in the Southern District of Illinios.

Case number 3:15-cv-00702, Southern District of Illinois