The prescription medication Topamax (topiramate) and its generic versions are in a class of medications called anticonvulsants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Topamax, alone or in conjunction with other medications, for the treatment of seizures in people diagnosed with epilepsy or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in 1995.
The FDA also approved this drug for the prevention of migraine headaches. According to WebMD, since the FDA approved Topamax for the prevention of migraine headaches in 2004, the drug has become one of the most widely prescribed drugs for this condition. Women, especially those in their childbearing years, are more likely to suffer migraine headaches than men are.
Physicians have also prescribed Topamax for "off-label" or unapproved uses, such as for the management of alcohol dependence, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and sleep disorders. Those who took Topamax or generic equivalent and experienced serious or fatal adverse side effects, including Topamax birth defects, may be eligible for compensation for their injury or loss through a Topamax side effects lawsuit.
Topamax Side Effects
People taking this medication may experience serious and potentially fatal side effects, including birth defects. If you are currently taking this drug and experiencing any of the side effects below or are concerned about the risks of birth defects for your unborn child, it is important to consult with a doctor.
Topamax side effects can include eye problems such as a sudden decrease in vision, that may or may not be accompanied by eye pain and redness, and increased pressure within the eye, both which could result in the permanent loss of vision if left untreated.
Topamax can also cause suicidal thoughts or actions. According to the FDA, people taking Topamax have nearly twice the risk of suicidal behavior or ideation than those taking a placebo. Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, or new or increased depression, anxiety, panic attacks, restlessness, insomnia, irritability, aggression or an extreme increase in activity or talking (mania) after taking this drug should contact their doctor immediately.
Despite animal studies and a 2008 study of epileptic women showing harm to fetuses exposed to Topamax, makers of the drug did not warn of Topamax birth defects risk until the FDA recently changed this drug to a Category D, indicating there is data showing adverse Topamax side effects on unborn fetuses, and required an update to the drug labeling.
Women who are pregnant or become pregnant while taking this drug have increased risk of having a baby with birth defects affecting the oral cleft, including cleft lip and/or cleft palate. Oral clefts are birth defects that occur when parts of the lip or palate do not completely fuse together early in the first trimester of pregnancy, a time when women may not yet know they are pregnant.
Because Topamax may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives and therefore increase the risk of unexpected pregnancy, women who are not advised to take additional preventative measures to ensure contraception against pregnancy before taking this drug may become pregnant with a fetus at risk of birth defects. The FDA does not prohibit doctors from prescribing Topamax to pregnant women or women of childbearing age, but allows doctors to decide if benefits outweigh risks. There are alternative medications, however, that do not carry the same risks as these Topamax birth defects. People should not stop taking Topamax without consulting with their doctor.
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We also have a website built exclusively to provide helpful information regarding Topamax and your legal options. You can learn more about this drug, its potential side effects, studies and FDA warnings.
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