French families are seeking compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote after a link was established between the drugs and child birth defects.
The drugs Epilim and Depakote were first introduced in France in 1967 under the brand name Depakine. Due to a natural nerve-calming agent called GABA that could stabilize electrical activity in the brain, the drug was originally used to treat epilepsy. Later, the drug was also prescribed for the treatment of bipolar disorder and, more informally, given to treat migraine and other chronic pain conditions.
Over the years, claims have been made that the drug´s active ingredients – sodium valproate and valproic acid – can cause birth defects when taken by pregnant women. Studies conducted in the 1980s found that babies born to mothers who had taken the drug had a 10% risk of suffering from heart, kidney or spine defects, and a 30% – 40% risk of being affected by delayed development or autism.
Now an extensive study by the France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) has confirmed the claims after tracking the medical history of 14,000 women known to have taken Depakine during pregnancy between 2007 and 2014. The study found up to 4,100 children were suffering the side effects of Epilim and Depakote and hundreds more had died in the womb.
Parents of the affected children are claiming that the manufacturers – Sanofi – failed to warn expectant mothers about the potential consequences of taking the drug and have formed a class action to claim compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote. The ANSM may also be facing legal action for failing to adequately advise the medical profession of the side effects of Epilim and Depakote.
In the UK, Epilim was first introduced in 1973. It was not until 2006 that warnings were first issued to doctors about prescribing Epilim and Depakote to expectant mothers. Those warnings have now been extended to include all women of childbearing age unless administration is initiated and supervised by a specialist after all other medications have found to ineffective.
If a member of your family has suffered an injury due to the consequences of taking sodium valproate during pregnancy, there are currently several avenues open to claim compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote. It is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor and seek professional legal advice about claiming compensation for the side effects of Epilim and Depakote while these avenues remain open.