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Missouri Court of Appeals Affirms $38M Depakote Verdict

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John Eddie Williams, Jr., Managing Partner of the Williams Kherkher law firm.

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, upheld Houston-based trial firm Williams Kherkher's $38 million dollar verdict against Abbott Labs for failing to provide accurate information to doctors regarding the use of the anti-epilepsy drug Depakote.

Depakote, the proprietary name given to the drug divalproex sodium in the United States, is a prescription drug that was developed to treat seizures and episodes of mania for those with bipolar disorder. While Depakote served as an effective treatment for some ailments and disorders, it has also been linked to serious side-effects that can cause lasting health problems.

The verdict was obtained by attorneys John Eddie, John Boundas, Sejal Brahmbhatt, Margot Trevino, and Brian Abramson of Williams Kherkher in Houston, TX.

Omitting drug's dangers

According to the November 08, 2016 court opinion: "The evidence and testimony set forth at trial exposed to the jury [Abbott's] knowledge of the current data about Depakote, and the numbers in the form of profits [Abbott] reaped by willfully omitting the extent of the drug's dangers from its warning to doctors to protect its profits.

"The jury could clearly deduce from this evidence that explicit, accurate, and up-to-date warnings were sacrificed in the name of profits at [Abbott], and further, [Abbott] intentionally deceived and distorted the truth about Depakote to doctors depriving them of the ability to have all the necessary information to make a considered medical decision as to whether to prescribe the drug."

"The jury heard evidence [Abbott's] focus on profit motivated it to conceal the serious hazards presented by Depakote to women of childbearing potential. [Abbott] spent $50-100 million per year marketing Depakote, yet spent no money on conducting independent safety research. Senior executives wanted market share to increase versus its competitors and thus endorsed and compelled the sales and marketing strategy of promoting Depakote's first-line use in women even though it was known to be a dirty drug whose use should be the last resort among AEDs in childbearing women."

The $38 million verdict upheld by the appellate court included $23 million dollars in punitive damages.  The appellate court found that rather than acting in the best interests of its customers, the company showed a blatant disregard for public health and unethically worked to increase its profits at the expense of women who needed help coping with various conditions and their unborn children.

Williams Kherkher is a nationally recognized trial law firm, representing clients across the country in mass torts, personal injury and commercial litigation. Williams Kherkher welcomes the opportunity to work with other law firms in joint ventures.

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