Drug Defects: December 2009 Archives

December 29, 2009

Paxil Lawsuits Costing Manufacturer Approx. $1 Billion

Paxil is an antidepressant manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline which is used to treat a variety of psychological disorders including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, and other mental issues.  Paxil is a member of a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and is used to balance serotonin levels in the brain.  However, since Paxil's introduction on the market in 1993, the potentially dangerous drug has been plagued with complaints of serious adverse medical events including an increase in suicide rates and attempts, addiction, and birth defects.

According to reports, Glaxo has paid nearly $390 million for suicide death and attempts attributed to Paxil.  The family of a Valparaiso, Indiana, boy who killed himself shortly after he started taking Paxil recently settled their suit against Glaxo for an undisclosed amount.  In that case and other suicide cases, Glaxo has attempted to blame the suicides on the underlying depression and not the drug itself.  However, Glaxo has reportedly settled 150 Paxil-related suicide cases and 300 Paxil-related suicide attempt cases.

Paxil has also been linked to severe birth-defects in children whose mothers took the antidepressant while pregnant.  In October, a Philadelphia jury found that Glaxo negligently failed to warn doctors of Paxil's risk to pregnant women and found that Paxil caused the heart defect in the three-year-old boy involved in the case.  The jury awarded the family $2.5 million in compensatory damages including future medical care.  According to reports, this case was the first of some 600 lawsuits against Glaxo for failing to warn of Paxil's dangers to pregnant women.  Glaxo has reportedly settled 10 other birth-defect cases to date.

Paxil has also been accused of causing addiction and severe withdrawal effects for those attempting to quit the drug.   According to reports, Glaxo has settled nearly 3,200 cases involving addiction-related complaints and complications.

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