Sodium Valproate (available under the brand name Depakote in the United States) is commonly prescribed for the management of seizures, depression, and other mental health issues, including Bipolar disorder. The drug has been available for decades, and is available in a generic form as well.
The particular way the drug functions is still the source of debate, as scientists have been unable to establish the precise mechanism by which Valproate acts as an anticonvulsant. What is understood is that Valproate has a litany of potential side effects, and is particularly harmful to unborn children.
Now, England has banned prescribing the drug to women who could potentially become pregnant, due to a high incidence of birth defects, including:
- Spina Bifida
- Reduced IQ of the child
- A syndrome referred to as Valproate Syndrome
To ensure women who may become pregnant do not take the medication, England is requiring prescribing physicians mandate women take some form of birth control to be able to utilize Valproate. This is a similar requirement to one employed in the United States to limit the risk of birth defects associated with Accutane.
American psychiatrists continue to prescribe Valproate to women who are at risk of becoming pregnant. In some instances, Valproate has been prescribed to women who are already pregnant, despite a 3-5 percent risk of neural tube defects and other issues.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to the side effects of Valproate, it is important to work with an experienced attorney on how to manage your case. Holding the manufacturer responsible for their dangerous drug can be difficult. Please, consult with a qualified lawyer about how best to proceed.