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Court Upholds $4 Million Verdict Against Maker of Topamax

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

By: J. Peter Veloski, Assistant Marketing Manager

On August 20, a Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed a $4 million dollar verdict against drug maker Janssen Pharmaceuticals, upholding claims related to Topamax, an anti-migraine and anti-convulsant medication. This suit is part of a larger mass tort consolidated in Philadelphia, in which plaintiffs allege that defendants including Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, failed to provide adequate warnings that Topamax could cause serious side effects such as birth defects. This case is one of ten that will be tried within the next year in Philadelphia, providing healthcare payers an opportunity to recover expenses paid to treat side effects caused by the drug. 

In 2011, the FDA issued warnings that the use of Topamax and its generic equivalents can lead to incidences of birth defects. Specifically, children of mothers who took the drug while pregnant may suffer from a cleft palate. The defects may range from a small notch in the upper lip, to a groove that can run deep into the roof of the child’s mouth and nose. More serious instances can lead to problems with eating, talking, and cause infections. 

Most often, surgery is required to treat a cleft palate, leading to high costs for healthcare payers. Accordingly, payers must have the ability to identify these claims and recover related costs, even if the injured person has not yet instituted an action for their own recovery. This is especially significant in cases involving Topamax, where the injured party may not file suit for a decade or more. In most states, the injured child’s right to recover from the drug maker will extend several years past their eighteenth birthday. 

Healthcare Recovery Solutions allows a healthcare payer to identify its Topamax related claims early, and seek recovery in the method of its choosing. Whether a payer chooses to recover a lien from their insured’s action or institute their own claim for damages against the drug maker, HRS allows a healthcare payer to expedite recovery of these expenses. With HRS, a healthcare payer can quickly and accurately identify patients who took the drug, identify all costs associated with the drug, and compile all subsequent side-effect related treatments for each patient. Without these tools, payers risk losing hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in potential recoveries. No matter which course of action a healthcare payer chooses, HRS can provide it with the ability to assert its full lien rights, and recover the maximum amount available. For more information, contact

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