Experts Winnowed for Birth Defect Trial Against Abbott

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May 10 — Expert testimony by two pediatric experts was substantially limited in a planned May 23 trial against Abbott Labs.

Plaintiffs allege that in utero exposure to Depakote caused a child's spina bifida.

Plaintiffs' expert Dr. Godfrey P. Oakley was to testify that defendant Abbott Labs., Inc. should have established a “pregnancy registry” to track the effects of drugs like Depakote on pregnant women and children exposed in utero.

That testimony would only prejudice Abbott, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri said. It wouldn't have given plaintiff Beth Forbes or her prescribing physician any more information than Abbott already provided on its label regarding the risk of having a baby with spina bifida.

Judge Charles A. Shaw also rejected most testimony by pediatrician Dr. Jack Land.

Land may testify as to the child's past and current condition, but not his prognosis or future surgical requirements.

In April, the court refused to dismiss the plaintiffs' bid for punitive damages.

Earlier rulings cleared the way for trial on strict liability and negligence claims.

Aubuchon, Raniere & Panzeri represents the plaintiffs.

Bryan Cave represents the defendants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Kaufman in Washington at bkaufman@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com and Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bna.com