ABBOTT LABS TRYING TO SETTLE DEPAKOTE WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUITS

On May 20, the U.S. Department of Justice informed a federal judge that it was discussing settlement of claims relating to the illegal marketing of Depakote. A whistleblower suit was filed against Abbott by Susan Mulcahy, Doreen Merriam and Sondra Knowles, all from Massachusetts and specialty executives with Abbott. They alleged that the company tried to promote Depakote for the off label treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and for use as a chemical restraint for elderly patients who become agitated or aggressive. Depakote was approved by the FDA in 1983 as a treatment for epilepsy. Depakote has been linked to an increased risk that a child will be born with severe birth defects or malformations when the medication is taken during the first trimester. In 2006, a warning about the potential risk of Depakote birth defects was placed on the label after a stidy found that 20% of thepregnant mothers who gave birth while on Depakote had a child with malformations or a birth defect.