Botox Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed By Parents of Child with Cerebral Palsy

A lawsuit has been in filed in Indiana by the parents of a 10-year-old girl who died after receiving injections of Botox to treat cerebral palsy, which has been linked to a number of deaths and serious adverse reactions throughout the United States. 

The Botox wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Allergan, Inc., the makers of Botox, by Brandon and Jill Wells, whose daughter, Audrey, died in 2008. Also included in the lawsuit are doctors from the Riley Hospital for Children, who treated Audrey with the Botox injections to help reduce muscle spasticity associated with cerebral palsy, even though the medication is not approved by the FDA for that use.

Audrey died just days after receiving Botox, which contains small quantities of the toxin associated with the muscle paralyzing condition Botulism, when the medication spread from the injection site and caused breathing difficulties. According to a story in the South Bend Tribune, the family alleges that neither the doctors or drug makers warned them about the potentially life-threatening side effects of Botox.

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Botox is approved for both cosmetic use to reduce the appearance of wrinkles in the skin and to treat medical conditions such as strabismus (crossed eyes), hyperhidrosis (excess sweating), cervical dystonia (involuntary contractions of the neck muscles) and blepharospasms (involuntary blinking of the eye). However, it also commonly used off-label at high doses to treat stiff and jerky movements associated with cerebral palsy in children.

A number of adverse event reports have been associated with side effects of Botox, where the medication spreads from the area of the injection to other parts of the body. These Botox problems have most commonly been seen among children with cerebral palsy, where the typical Botox dose is substantially larger.

Under Indiana state law, the Wellses first had to file a medical malpractice claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDI). A panel of medical experts will review the case to see if it has merit. If they approve, it will move on to state or federal court.

Earlier this month, Allergan won a similar Botox lawsuit filed in California by Dee Spears, the mother of 7 year-old Kristen Spears, who also died after receiving Botox for cerebral palsy. The jury found that the girl died of cerebral palsy complications, not Botox complications.

In February 2008, the FDA issued a warning about the risks associated with use of Botox to treat cerebral palsy, after receiving a number of adverse event reports involving sudden death, breathing problems and other potentially life-threatening injuries. A “black box” Botox warning was added to the medication in August 2009, warning about the risk of botulism-like side effects, such as swallowing and breathing difficulties, that can occur if the injection spreads to other areas of the body.

More than a dozen people have filed lawsuits over Botox against Allergan, alleging that the company illegally promoted the medication for non-approved uses and failed to adequately warn about the risk of these severe and potentially life-threatening Botox injuries.

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