Chilton County woman alleges nausea drug caused birth defects in her son

Published 4:39 pm Thursday, May 7, 2015

In a federal lawsuit filed April 1, a Chilton County woman claims a drug she was prescribed by doctors to cut down on nausea while pregnant caused several birth defects in her son.

Julie Hunter states in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of Alabama against GlaxoSmithKline, the drug manufacturer, that her son Talon Hunter, 8, was born with a “high narrow pallet, extra digits on his hands, a distended kidney since birth, and glaucoma.”

Talon Hunter also suffers from a seizure disorder, is a special needs child who is nonverbal, has displayed delayed reactions since birth and has a chromosomal defect involving a duplication of the 13th chromosome, according to the lawsuit.

Talon Hunter’s multiple health issues currently persist and are “expected to last throughout the duration of his life,” according to the lawsuit.

According to the FDA’s website, Zofran (Ondansetron) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a drug to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. It is in a class of medications called 5-HT3 receptor antagonists and works by blocking the action of serotonin, a natural substance that may cause nausea and vomiting.

Doctors also prescribe the medication to pregnant women to help with morning sickness.

The lawsuit states that both of Talon Hunter’s parents were tested by a geneticist and neither parent exhibited “any chromosomal issues that could have been congenitally passed to Talon Hunter.”

The lawsuit is seeking compensatory or punitive damages for claims under Alabama’s extended manufacturer’s liability doctrine, and for negligent failure to warn, breach of warranty, negligence, wantonness and strict liability.

Attorneys for GlaxoSmithKline filed a motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala to dismiss the case, alleging the plaintiff cannot support the allegation that exposure to Zofran during pregnancy can cause an error in cell division that results in Trisomy 13 (a condition in which a person has an extra Chromosome 13).

Attorneys for Hunter had not responded to The Clanton Advertiser’s request for comment as of Thursday afternoon.

Attorneys representing GlaxoSmithKline were not available for comment.