Mother alleges anti-nausea drug caused birth defects

Michelle Massey Jun. 10, 2010, 11:52am

A mother is suing the manufacturer of the anti-nausea drug Reglan, claiming the medication caused birth defects in her child.

Joshua A. Whitener, Sr. and Lindsey C. Whitener, individually and on behalf of their young son, filed suit against Pliva, Inc., Pliva USA, Pliva Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Barr Laboratories, Barr Pharmaceuticals, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Rue De Sante Women's Center and John McCrossen. The lawsuit was originally filed Feb. 11, 2010 in St. John the Baptist Parish District Court.

Pliva removed the case to federal court May 24.

Soon after learning she was pregnant with her second child, Lindsey Whitener complained to her physician about morning sickness – nausea and vomiting - while at work, the complaint states.

Her doctor prescribed Reglan and told her it was safe to take. Whitener says her obstetrician never told her of potential risks to her unborn child.

Reglan is not recommended for use during pregnancy, the complaint state. Whitener began taking Reglan in the seventh week of pregnancy and took it for about four weeks.

Whitener says she began having problems during the 32nd week of her pregnancy and gave birth to her son prematurely at 36 weeks gestation. Whitener's son, Lucas, was born with extensive physical disabilities and problems and spent the majority of his first six months of life in the hospital. Despite extensive testing, physicians were unable to find the cause of Lucas's problems.

It was not until nearly a year later, when Whitener saw a television commercial that listed adverse effects of Reglan, that she came to believe the drug was likely to blame for her son's medical issues.

She says she spoke to various health care providers and none could rule out the drug having caused or contributed to Lucas' problems.

The Whiteners have also filed a complaint with the Louisiana Commissioner of Administration seeking a review by a panel of medical experts.

The defendants are accused of failing to properly prescribe the medication, failing to properly monitor and evaluate the patient, failing to adequately and properly warn or advise the patient, health care providers and pharmacies.

The Whiteners are seeking damages for pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, fear, mental anguish, loss of love and affection, loss of companionship, grief and mental anguish, loss of society and consortium, loss of personal service, loss of support, medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial loss/detriment.

Baton Rouge attorneys Jane Barney, Azelie Ziegler Shelby and Robin E. Boatright of the Shelby Law Firm and J. Arthur Smith, III, Corey Hebert and Seth M. Dornier of Smith Law Firm are representing the Whiteners. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv01552

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