As Abbott Laboratories Now Faces Multiple Lawsuits Related to Marketing Practices, Trantolo & Trantolo is Offering Assistance with Depakote Claims

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Throughout June and August 2013, investors and health plans are going after Depakote manufacturer Abbott Laboratories with a lawsuit regarding its marketing practices. Connecticut law firm Trantolo & Trantolo, in response to this and other recent cases, is assisting with Depakote-related claims.

Trantolo & Trantolo

Trantolo & Trantolo

On June 5, 2013, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall in Chicago denied a request to dismiss a lawsuit from shareholders alleging Depakote manufacturer Abbott Laboratories engaged in illegal marketing practices (Re Abbott-Depakote Shareholder Derivative Litigation, 11-cv-08114, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois). As the manufacturer now faces this and other lawsuits alleging the anti-seizure medication resulted in birth defects (In re: Abbott Laboratories Inc., case numbers 12-8020, 12-8021, 12-8022, 12-8023, 12-8024, 12-8025, and 12-8026, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit), Connecticut law firm Trantolo & Trantolo is providing legal assistance to individuals not informed of Depakote’s potential birth defects when taken during pregnancy or given the drug as an allegedly illegal off-brand treatment for dementia.

For Re Abbott-Depakote Shareholder Derivative Litigation, court documents show eight lawsuits consolidated into a single case against Abbott Laboratories’ directors, who allegedly violated their financial and management responsibilities. As the court documents indicate, the company’s sales team allegedly advertised Depakote to nursing home patients with dementia, although scientific studies did not verify the supposed benefits of the drug in treating the condition. Along with this factor, shareholders, in the lawsuit, are requesting a court order to reform the company’s operational practices.

Re Abbott-Depakote Shareholder Derivative Litigation is not the only instance in which the drug manufacturer’s marketing practices have come under fire. According to a Department of Justice May 7, 2012 press release, Abbott Laboratories settled for $1.5 billion after four sales team members filed qui tam complaints regarding an alleged strategy to market the drug for off-label treatments – a practice physicians can do and have done with Depakote, but one that is illegal when marketing representatives attempt to do so.

Court documents reveal that more organizations are coming forward with similar claims, and as of August 16, 2013, a proposed class action lawsuit (Sidney Hillman Health Center of Rochester et al. v. Abbott Laboratories et al., case number 1:13-cv-05865, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) was filed in Illinois federal court. Three health plans, Sidney Hillman Health Center of Rochester, Teamsters Health Services and Insurance Plan Local 404, and United Food and Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Health Benefits Fund, allege Abbott Laboratories schemed to make millions off payments from off-label marketing through reimbursements. The plaintiff further alleges its members were directed toward Depakote when less expensive, more effective alternatives existed on the market.

Court documents indicate the June 5, 2013 lawsuit isn’t the only litigation Abbott Laboratories is facing currently. On October 16, 2012, 10 separate lawsuits filed in Illinois state court, all alleging Depakote taken during pregnancy resulted in birth defects, were consolidated into In re: Abbott Laboratories Inc. (Case Nos. 12-8020, 12-8021, 12-8022, 12-8023, 12-8024, 12-8025, 12-8026, and 12-8027, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit) under the Class Action Fairness Act. Moved to federal court, all 10 lawsuits will be tried together.

Although Depakote and similar generic varies have been prescribed for seizure treatment since 1983, two studies published over the past decade associate the medication with birth defects when a fetus is exposed in utero: “Valproic Acid Monotherapy in Pregnancy and Major Congenital Malformation” published on June 10, 2010 and “Cognitive Function at 3 Years of Age After Fetal Exposure to Antiepileptic Drugs” on April 16, 2009, both in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Valproic Acid Monotherapy in Pregnancy and Major Congenital Malformation” associates the medication with such conditions in infants as spinal bifida, neural tube defects, cardiac defects, facial clefts, hypospadias, craniosyntocis, limb defects, cleft palate, congenital anomalies, and symptoms similar to fetal alcohol syndrome

Added to the two studies, the FDA issued warnings about Depakote’s potential side effects. After a box warning in 2006, the organization’s May 6, 2013 Drug Safety Communications stated that Depakote, generic valproate sodium, and related valproic acid and divalproex sodium have been contraindicated for migraine prevention in pregnant women.

Depakote claims related to birth defects and off-brand marketing fall within Trantolo & Trantolo’s scope of cases. For decades, the Connecticut personal injury law firm has taken on a broad spectrum product liability claims and class action lawsuits. For all current Depakote claims brought to the law firm’s attention, Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers thoroughly investigate each during pre-trial phases.

Since beginning in 1938, personal injury law firm Trantolo & Trantolo has become known throughout Connecticut for representing those in need. Along with taking on claims related to Depakote, Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers accept cases concerning product liability, medical malpractice, car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, nursing home negligence, class action, dangerous drugs, slips and falls, and social security disability.

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Norm LeBlanc
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