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The class actions efficiency against the Depakine's liabilities in Switzerland

The Depakine (also known as Depakote) is a medicine used in case of epilepsy or as a preventive treatment from child fever convulsions. But, if the Depakine is used during pregnancy, it could cause defects and brain troubles to a born child.

On November, 12th 2020, a family who decided to intent an action against Sanofi (the French pharmaceutical company), appeared for the first time before the Geneve Court. This family claimed that the French company is liable for the lack of information regarding the medicine. In this particular case, Sanofi recognizes its liability but claim as a defense that the action is time-barred. Nevertheless, this case follows many more cases as it is established that around forty Swiss children have been victims of this lack of information from the medical system.

This case remains the first one in Switzerland but it appears that another justice State had to rule a similar case. As a matter of fact, on July, 2nd 2020 the French Administrative Court of Montreuil ruled that the French State Sanofi and the doctors who gave Depakine as prescription to pregnant women, were liable for the children defects. The French State was condemned to compensate the three families that intent the action.

It is thanks to a class action that the French Court of Montreuil recognized that the State « was responsible of not fulfilling its obligation to control and not taking the necessary means to do so. »

The French State had to pay each family 200 000 euros, 157 000 euros and 20 000 euros, according to the birth year of the five children that were concerned and are now between 11 and 35 years old.

Yet, this medical issue is still keeping busy the French justice. In fact, on November, 9th 2020, the National Medicine and Health Product Security Association (ANSM) was indicted for « injuries and unintended manslaughter. » These charges are the result of an investigation that started in 2016 and was handled by the Judicial Court of Paris on behalf of the Association for the welfare of the children’s parents suffering from the Depakine syndrome (APESAC). An ongoing class action will be heard on March 2021 in order to compensate more than fifty gathered families that are victims to this issue.

It would be no surprise that the Swiss justice as well as the French justice will ruling in favor of the victims. In fact, it seems that the judicial power is willing to condemn a significant number of medical professionals that failed to inform properly the victims about this medicine. This tendency to rule in favor of the families appears since the European Commission finale decision from June, 7th 2018 that forbids the prescription of valproate (which is a component of Depakine) to all women who are able to become pregnant or, moreover, who are pregnant. Thanks to this class action, many families can gather and sue a person or a company in order to obtain a financial compensation. The reunion of these harmed families ensures to be heard in a Court and therefore, maximize their chances to have justice.

 The class action is a legal mean that is as specific as efficient. If you consider yourself as a victim of this medical issue or would like to join a class action before the Swiss Courts, our firm would be pleased to be of assistance in  your case or answer any questions you might have in connection to your possible entitlements.