Depakote Side Effects Include Pancreatitis, Liver Damage, and an Increased Risk for Birth Defects

Typically used to treat epilepsy, Depakote® has been linked to birth defects when taken by pregnant women. Other serious Depakote side effects include pancreatitis and liver damage.  San Diego, CA, patients who have experienced these adverse side effects should seek legal counsel with one our top-notch attorneys. At San Diego Injury Lawyer, we are renowned for our skill with defective drug cases. We will begin building your case quickly so that you can join in the growing outcry against this controversial medication. Your lawsuit could obtain money to cover your medical expenses and ongoing care for your child born with birth defects. 

Depakote Overview

Depakote is a popular anti-seizure medication. The drug increases the body’s production of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter. In this way, it can block the brain signals that lead to seizures. Additionally, Depakote is used to treat chronic migraines and bipolar disorder. The medication has been on the market since 1983, and doctors have prescribed it to millions of patients.

Tragically, Depakote can lead to serious birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Ranging in severity, these defects can even cause lifelong physical impairment.

A newborn baby

Evidence shows that women who used Depakote in the first trimester of pregnancy experienced a significant risk for certain types of birth defects. 

Depakote and Birth Defects

Tragically, Depakote can lead to serious birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Ranging in severity, these defects can even cause lifelong physical impairment.

  • Spina bifida: Spina bifida is the most common birth defect associated with Depakote, and it is one of several neural tube defects. Neural tubes are the embryonic structures that later form a baby’s brain and spine. Spina bifida prevents the spinal cord from closing properly. Children may experience seizures, muscle weakness, and bowel or bladder dysfunction.
  • Other neural tube defects: Depakote may cause other, less well-known neural tube defects. According to some estimates, these conditions can affect as many as one in 20 children among those whose mothers were taking Depakote during pregnancy.
  • Decreased cognitive function: In 2011, the FDA issued a warning about Depakote and cognitive defects. The warning came after scientists tested children between ages five and 16. On average, those exposed to Depakote in the womb had lower IQ levels and scored lower on the Differential Ability Scale (DAS).
  • Cleft palate and similar defects: Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study about Depakote and the increased risk for cleft palate, polydactyly, craniosynostosis, and related problems.

Depakote, Pancreatitis, and Liver Damage

Scientists are also concerned about the effects that Depakote can have on those taking the drug themselves. In fact, in July of 2000, the FDA required the maker of Depakote to carry a black box warning stating that the drug has been linked to an increased risk for pancreatitis. Inflammation of the pancreas can be sudden, acute, and life-threatening. Abbot Laboratories had always listed pancreatitis as a potential side effect. However, by mandating a black box label, the FDA increased awareness of this potentially fatal complication. 

Six years later, the FDA required Abbot Laboratories to place a black box label on Depakote that warns users of the risk of liver failure. The risks are especially high among patients under two years of age and in the first six months of use. 

Depakote and Suicide

Depakote can also increase the frequency of suicidal thoughts among users. This is especially risky because those with bipolar disorder and similar conditions are already more likely to consider suicide. In 2008, the FDA analyzed 199 separate studies of Depakote. They found that one in every 530 participants reported an increase in suicidal thoughts. There were also four victims of suicide among the studies.

Other Depakote Side Effects

In addition to the grave risks listed above, Depakote has been associated with additional problems. These include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Permanent hair loss
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulties with coordination (ataxia)
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Tremors
  • Rash
  • Dyspepsia (upset stomach)

Take Legal Action If You Are Suffering from Depakote Side Effects

If you or your child have experienced adverse side effects because of Depakote, you may be able to join in the growing lawsuit. For years, doctors had no way of knowing that the drug could have such devastating consequences for their patients. Therefore, a number of victims have taken Abbott Laboratories to task. With the growing number of complaints, it is likely that victims will be awarded a significant amount of compensation. Courts have already ordered Abbott to pay $1.5 billion dollars in fines for illegally marketing the drug.

Contact Us Today

Our attorneys are experts in defective drug cases. With their outstanding representation, you could earn the money you deserve for medical bills, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. Contact San Diego Injury Lawyer today to book a free consultation and find out if you have a viable defective drug claim.