Improper Use of Botox for Cerebral Palsy Results in Massive Jury Award
A New York couple who had filed a Botox cerebral palsy lawsuit claimed that the treatment resulted in their son’s development of life-threatening complications. A jury agreed with their allegations and recently awarded the family $6.75 million.
The verdict was announced in the U.S. District Court in Burlington. It came just three days following the announcement of a major acquisition. Drug manufacturer Actavis announced the $66 billion acquisition of Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox and the defendants in the cerebral palsy lawsuit.
The family did not name the hospital or the doctor who administered the Botox injections to the boy as defendants in the complaint.
Boy suffers from lifelong medical problems
The boy, who is now seven years old, suffers from cerebral palsy, which is a group of disorders that involve brain damage. Cerebral palsy can result in a wide range of physical limitations and other symptoms, such as muscle spasms, mental retardation, learning disabilities, vision impairment, hearing impairment, and speech and language problems.
The minor child’s family took him to a Vermont hospital in 2012 to receive Botox injections for the treatment of muscle spasms in his calf muscles. As an alleged result of the cerebral palsy treatment, the boy now suffers from epilepsy. This disorder is associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes seizures. The symptoms of seizures can vary widely and may include periods of confusion, staring, loss of consciousness, spontaneous sensory symptoms, repetitive movements, and involuntary jerking movements of the muscles.
Because patients with epilepsy are not in control of their bodies during a seizure, these episodes can lead to dangerous complications. For example, the boy may be at risk of suffering further injury due to falling or drowning during a seizure. When he grows older, he will be at risk of becoming involved in a serious car accident if a seizure occurs while driving. Individuals with epilepsy are also at risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), which may be associated with heart or respiratory complications.
The family who filed the Botox cerebral palsy lawsuit has stated that because of the boy’s epilepsy, he must now have a home health aide with him at all times. In the event of a seizure, the aide may need to administer life-saving medications. The costs for arranging for home health care on a 24/7 basis are exorbitant. With the $6.75 million jury award, the family will be able to provide their son with the lifelong care he requires.
Botox promoted for off-label use
This Botox cerebral palsy lawsuit came on the heels of a 2010 settlement agreement between California-based Allergan and federal prosecutors. The drug manufacturer agreed to pay $600 million to settle a civil complaint filed by the government that alleged Allergan improperly promoted Botox for off-label use, including the treatment of cerebral palsy in children.
The use of Botox for the treatment of cerebral palsy symptoms had been approved in other countries, but not in the U.S. Although doctors may prescribe a medication for off-label use, it is illegal for the drug manufacturer to promote a product for such use. As part of the deal, Allergan also pleaded guilty to a federal criminal charge.