Depakote is the proprietary name give to the drug divalproex sodium in the United States. Developed by Abbott Laboratories in 1983, it is designed for treating seizures as well as manic episodes for people with bipolar disorder. It is also prescribed for treating and preventing migraines. While Depakote is not a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the drug is sometimes prescribed in relation with SSRIs.
According to the website of Williams Kherkher, Depakote also has serious side effects that can have lasting health prtoblems. Recently, there has been several studies that have re-examined the potential connection between Depakote and birth defects in children exposed to the popular anticonvulsant drug during pregnancy. Research shows that pregnant women who take Depakote may experience a significant risk of giving birth to babies with devastating birth defects such as spina bifida, heart defects, cleft palate, to name just a few.
In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning that pregnant women should avoid Depakote and other valproate drugs as they were associated with lower IQs especially in children. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that pregnant women who take valproic acid during early pregnancy are 12 times more prone to giving birth to a child with spina bifida. Aside from that, the FDA also advised patients not to take antiepileptic drugs as they can increase risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior. The FDA also required drug companies to include warnings about this risk on their prescription labels.
Unfortunately, these warnings came too late for many women who took Depakote. Drug manufacturers have the responsibility of testing their drugs and warning the public about its risks. Unfortunately, Abbott Laboratories failed to inform consumers about such risks. In 2012, the company pleaded guilty for misbranding Depakote. It agreed for a settlement worth $1.5 billion. Abbott is also facing product liability and wrongful death suits.