A jury awarded $20.5 million to a Perry school teacher who claimed that a drug company failed to warn about serious side effects from a drug she was given before surgery.
The verdict came down this week in Houston County State Court, according to Jason Ashford, the state court judge.
Ann Pope and her husband claimed that she had seizures, went into a coma and suffered serious injuries because the drug Methylene Blue interacted with another drug she was already taking.
That happened after Ann Pope had parathyroid surgery at Perry Hospital in 2013, according to a pre-trial order in the case.
The Pope's lawsuit argues that the drug company, Akorn Inc., failed to include a warning on or inside the package for Methylene Blue about possible dangerous side effects.
According to the pre-trial order, Akorn knew that in 2011 the FDA warned that Methylene Blue could cause serious central-nervous system reaction when used with certain other drugs. That includes a prescription medicine called Effexor XR, which Pope was using.
Perry Hospital's pharmacist would not have prescribed Methylene Blue if the package had included a warning, the Popes' lawyers argued.
Due to Ann Pope's injuries, the couple ran up more than a quarter-million dollars in medical bills and she will have to retire six years early from her job teaching kindergarten, the pre-trial order says.
A jury awarded Ann and Anthony Pope $3 million in compensatory damages and $17.5 million in punitive damages, according to Ashford. He declined further comment, saying Akorn is likely to appeal the verdict.
Akorn argued that Houston Healthcare failed to check for interactions between the two drugs in their database. They also claimed that there was no proof that Methylene Blue caused Ann Pope's bad reaction or that she has suffered "permanent, recurrent" injuries.
Atlanta attorney Michael Bruyere represented Akorn. We could not reach him for comment Friday.
The couple's attorney, Paul Phillips of Albany, says Ann Pope suffers from what he calls "processing and memory issues."
He said she's back in the classroom, but expects to retire this spring.
"She's a great lady, and she's doing better," he said. "But she's a kindergarten teacher and to manage 27 little souls in a classroom, it's hard for her."
Phillips also expects Akorn to appeal the verdict.
"They have never taken responsibility," he said. "Their actions have been egregious and still are."
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