Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Unit to Pay $4.02 Million In Cases When Seizure Drug Caused Birth Defects

A Philadelphia jury has agreed to a $4.02 million verdict against a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, because of birth defects related to the seizure drug Topamax. The Philadelphia state court jury deliberated less than one hour before rendering its verdict in favor of a Virginia resident, April Czimmer, who took the drug to treat her migraine headaches. Topamax is designed to prevent seizures in adults and children.

Ms. Czimmer took Topamax for six months. She gave birth to a baby boy who was born with a cleft lip. Ms. Czimmer said her son, who was born in September 2007, suffered birth injuries requiring four different surgeries.

The lawsuit was the first to proceed against Janssen Pharmaceutical that went to verdict. There are about 134 other cases pending in the state court in Philadelphia related to Topamax side effects, mostly birth defects.

Topamax was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. It was once among Johnson & Johnson’s top sellers before it lost its patent protection in 2009. According to the lawsuit, Ms. Czimmer took Topamax from August 2006 through February 2007 to treat migraine headaches. 

The birth defects known as oral clefts range from a small notch in the lip to a groove that runs into the roof of the mouth and nose.

Johnson & Johnson’s lawyers argued that the oral clefts are a common congenital malformation with as many as 4,500 babies born each year in the United States with cleft lip. 

In this case, the jury in the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court found that Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. (formerly Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutica) was negligent in that it chose not to warn healthcare providers “of the extent of the risk of birth defects” from Topamax and that its negligence was the substantial factor in causing a left lip/cleft palate in Blake Czimmer, son of the plaintiff, April Czimmer. The jury’s verdict included $562,184.68 in future healthcare costs to Blake Czimmer and $3,440,000 for pain and suffering. The case was tried over a 12-day period. 

April Czimmer, et al. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutica, No. 1105-03459, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling mass tort cases, pharmaceutical defect cases and birth injury lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Edgewater, Buena Park, Uptown, Lakeview East, Peterson Park, Andersonville, Lawndale, West Humboldt Park), Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Bellwood, Burr Ridge, Western Springs, Justice, Glendale Heights, Wheaton, Lisle, Lombard, Itasca, Bedford Park, Northfield, Prospect Heights and Riverwoods, Ill.

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