Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion upholding a lower court’s verdict in favor of a mother whose child was born with a cleft palate and lip. According to one news source covering the case, the young girl suffers from hearing loss and speech problems, and she has undergone approximately 14 surgeries to correct the condition. The plaintiffs claim that the girl has also been subject to teasing and bullying as a result of her appearance and speech.
The case was brought against a subsidiary of a drug manufacturing giant, Johnson & Johnson, and it alleged that the company failed to warn doctors that pregnant patients may experience a heightened chance of birth defects if they take Topamax during the first trimester of pregnancy.
A Drug Manufacturer’s Duty to the Public
In general, manufacturers of over-the-counter and prescription drugs have a duty to warn people who may take a drug of any potential serious side effects. Of course, not every side effect of a medication is known at the time of manufacture, so only those potential complications that are known about must be disclosed. However, if a company fails to warn patients or prescribing physicians of potential dangers associated with the medication, the manufacturer may be held liable for injuries caused as a result.