Dangerous Drug: Topamax

Topamax is an anticonvulsant medication that may be used to treat seizures in children (two years and up) and adults. It is sometimes prescribed to adults for the treatment of migraines as well.

Unfortunately, it may be considered a dangerous drug that can cause serious side effects, such as birth defects. Those injured by the drug in Long Island may discuss issues of liability with a personal injury lawyer in New York.

What risks are there to pregnant women who take Topamax? 

Seizures caused by epilepsy during pregnancy can lead to a variety of complications: 

  • placental abruption (placenta prematurely separates from uterus);
  • preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein levels in urine); and
  • premature birth.

However, taking medication such as Topamax to treat seizures also presents risks. This drug could increase the risk of cleft palate and/or cleft lip in a newborn born to a mother who took this medication during pregnancy.

Cleft palate is a birth defect in which the roof of the infant’s mouth is open or split. In a cleft lip, it’s a separation or split of both sides of the upper lip. It can extend into the upper gums or jaw.

There are five categories the FDA places the risk of a drug during pregnancy. They include categories A, B, C, D and X. Those that fall under Category A have the lowest risk and those under Category X have the highest.

Topamax falls under category D, which means there is positive evidence of the risk of birth defects. However, in some situations the risks may be acceptable because of the potential benefits, such as preventing dangerous seizures. This is a decision that should be discussed with a doctor.

What are other risks of taking Topamax?

It’s not just pregnant women who should be aware of its potential side effects. Anyone who is taking Topamax could develop side effects, some more severe than others. Although some of them tend to be rare, it is still important to discuss these with a physician.

The following are some of possible side effects of Topamax: 

  • pain around/behind the eyes;
  • vision loss;
  • memory problems;
  • confusion;
  • speech difficulties;
  • numbness/tingling;
  • loss of balance;
  • depression;
  • aggressiveness;
  • mood changes;
  • suicidal thoughts;
  • decreased white blood cells (which increases risk of infection); and
  • inflammation of stomach and intestinal lining.

Who can be liable for injuries caused by a dangerous drug?

Injuries caused by Topamax may be linked to some types of negligence. For instance, if a pregnant woman was never told of the risks and yet was still prescribed the drug, it could lead to the physician being held liable. Another issue could be other medical conditions that may increase risk of taking the drug. 

Doctors should ensure a thorough patient history is taken, as certain conditions could increase risk of adverse side effects: 

  • glaucoma;
  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease; and
  • asthma.

Drug manufacturers can sometimes be liable as well. This can stem from a failure to provide warning of side effects, to manufacturing a drug that has known side effects but not disclosing them. Or if a drug doesn’t contain adequate instructions, such as how to take the drug and when it shouldn’t be taken, this may also result in a manufacturer’s liability.

Sometimes other parties could also be responsible for a dangerous drug like a: 

  • drug company sales representative;
  • nurse; or
  • pharmacist.

Cases like this may benefit from a Long Island personal injury lawyer who can examine the case for clients in New York.

Contact a Long Island Personal Injury Lawyer for Help with a New York Dangerous Drug Claim

For a patient (or family members who have lost a loved one) to fully understand legal rights in these cases, it’s a good idea to speak with a Long Island personal injury lawyer. In New York, Gacovino, Lake & Associates can help with dangerous drug claims or medical malpractice cases, such as those involving Topamax.

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