Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit must pay $4.02 million in a lawsuit claiming that its seizure drug Topamax caused birth defects. The Philadelphia state court jury deliberated less than an hour before rendering their verdict in favor of Virginia resident April Czimmer, who took the drug for six months and gave birth to a boy with cleft lip. Czimmer said her son, born in September 2007, had injuries requiring four surgeries. This is believed to be the first case of this sort against Jansen to go to trial. Ms. Czimmer’s case is the first of about 134 cases pending in state court in Philadelphia related to the drug. Another trial began on Oct. 29 involving injuries suffered by a 5-year-old boy from South Carolina.
Topamax, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996, was one of New Brunswick-based J&J’s top sellers before it lost patent protection in 2009. Ms. Czimmer took the drug from August 2006 through February 2007 to treat migraines. 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. Lawyers for the company argued that oral clefts are a common congenital malformation with about 4,500 babies born each year in the U.S. with cleft lip. Tommy Fibich, who is with Fibich, Hampton, Leebron, Briggs & Josephson, a Houston firm, represented the Plaintiff. He did a very good job in her case.
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