A New York couple who said Botox treatment of their son’s cerebral palsy left him with life-threatening complications and sued its manufacturer won a $6.75 million verdict from a federal jury on Thursday.
The verdict, in U.S. District Court in Vermont, came three days after the announcement that New Jersey drugmaker Actavis would acquire Botox maker Allergan for $66 billion, one of the biggest acquisitions announced this year.
A lawyer for New York state residents Lori and Kevin Drake said Joshua Drake, now 7, suffered calf spasms due to mild cerebral palsy until he got Botox injections to treat them at a Vermont hospital in 2012. The lawyer, Ray Chester, said Joshua has since developed epilepsy and must have an aide with him at all times in case he needs life-saving medications during a seizure.
Thursday’s verdict came four years after California-based Allergan agreed to pay $600 million, pleading guilty to a federal criminal charge and settling the government’s civil complaint that it had improperly promoted Botox for off-label uses including juvenile cerebral palsy. The injections that damaged Joshua were given by a doctor in Vermont at the Fletcher Allen Health Care hospital, now known as the University of Vermont Medical Center, 19 months after the 2010 court action.
Chester said the doctor and the hospital were not defendants in the lawsuit.
Phone messages and an email sent to Allergan on Thursday drew no immediate response. At the time of its 2010 settlement with federal prosecutors in Georgia, the company said Botox had been approved for treatment of juvenile cerebral palsy in 70 countries but not the United States.
Botox went on the market in 1989 and gained quick fame as a treatment for wrinkles in aging faces. Its uses since have expanded to include treatment of neck spasms, eye muscle disorders and excessive underarm sweating.
The list of government allegations that led to Allergan’s guilty plea in 2010 said it set up a patient advocacy group to push regulators and insurers to approve more uses for Botox.
Allergan, in its 2010 statement, said it was “committed to conducting its business consistent with high ethical standards.”
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