What is Topamax?
Topamax is a prescription medication that is used to prevent and control seizures (epilepsy), as well as to prevent migraine headaches and decrease how often you get them. The drug works by reducing bursts of electrical activity in the brain and restoring the normal balance of nerve activity. Topamax is manufactured and marketed by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals and was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.
What's the Problem?
Older antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) like Topamax are known to cause Stevens-Johnson syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (SJS/TEN). The medical literature cites numerous records of SJS/TEN in patients treated with Topamax.
Related Article: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Lawsuit
What is SJS/TEN?
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis are very serious skin reactions that can range from mild to very severe and can be life-threatening, with SJS and TEN being the most serious. These forms of adverse drug reactions, or ADRs, are classified as autoimmune diseases and also affect the mucus membranes.
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Symptoms
- Flu-like symptoms
- High temperature
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
- Rash that usually starts on the upper body before quickly spreading to the face, arms, legs, and other areas of the body, such as the genitals.
Risk of SJS/TEN in New Users of Anti-Epileptic Drugs: Study
A December 2017 study published in the journal Epilepsia [1.] sought to quantify the risks of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis linked to the use of antiepileptic drugs like Topamax in the United Kingdom.
The researchers used conditional logistic regression to calculate odds ratios with confidence intervals and calculated absolute risks of SJS/TEN within separate cohorts of new users of 28 antiepileptic drugs. They found a strong link between SJS/TEN and the new use of carbamazepine, phenytoin, and lamotrigine, where causality was very probable or probable for most exposed cases.
"The results of our study are consistent with those of previous studies of SJS/TEN, which found increased risks of SJS/TEN in new use of carbamazepine, phenytoin, and lamotrigine," the study's authors concluded.
Are SJS and TEN the Same Thing?
Although they were once thought to be separate diseases, most medical professionals now consider SJS and TEN to be part of a disease continuum which are distinguished mainly by severity, based upon the % of body surface affected:
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a less severe condition, in which skin detachment is less than 10% of the body surface.
- Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis involves the detachment of 30 or more percent of the body's surface area.
- SJS/TEN overlap describes patients with skin detachment of 10 to 30% of body surface area.
Topamax Birth Defects
The FDA in 2011 issued a warning which stated that women who took Topamax in their 1st trimester were 21x more likely to have a baby with an oral cleft birth defect compared to women who did not use the medication. Additionally, those who took Topamax were 3 times more likely to have oral defects than those taking other seizure medications.
In addition to oral defects, Topamax may also cause birth defects such as malformations of the lungs, heart, and limbs and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
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Get a Free Topamax Stevens-Johnson Syndrome Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Topamax Stevens-Johnson Syndrome lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently investigating potential settlements in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) after taking Topamax, you should contact our law firm immediately for a free case review. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit for legal fees and our defective drug lawyers can help with a free case evaluation.