On April 20, 2017, a Chicago jury returned its verdict in the amount of $3 million in favor of a widow whose 57-year-old husband was a corporate attorney who committed suicide while taking a generic version of Paxil, by stepping into the path of a train on July 15, 2010. The defendant was GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures the brand-name Paxil (paroxetine), a medication prescribed to treat depression and anxiety.
What makes this pharmaceutical malpractice case so unusual is that while GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) manufactures Paxil, the plaintiff’s husband was taking the generic version of paroxetine, which was manufactured by another pharmaceutical company. The plaintiff based her claim on the fact that the generic drug manufacturer was required to use the same labeling as brand-name Paxil, and that the drug label allegedly failed to warn her husband’s physician regarding the increased risk of suicide for patients using paroxetine, which allegedly led to his death (generic drug manufacturers are required to use the same labeling as the brand-name drugs, and the drugs are identical).
The plaintiff originally filed her negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturer of the generic drug but that lawsuit was dismissed by a judge because the generic manufacturer was required to use the same label as the brand-name drug.
Following the verdict that was rendered after three days of jury deliberations in federal court in Chicago, the plaintiff stated, “This for me has not just been about the money. This has always been about awareness to a health issue, and the public has to be aware of this.”
A spokesperson for GSK stated after the Chicago jury’s verdict, “GSK maintains that because it did not manufacture or market the medicine ingested by [the plaintiff’s husband], it should not be liable. Additionally, the Paxil label provided complete and adequate warnings during the time period relevant to this lawsuit.”
GSK has indicated its plan to appeal the $3 million verdict against it.
Over ten years ago, on April 5, 2006, GSK issued an “Update” to its “Briefing Document” entitled “Paroxetine Adult Suicidality Analysis: Major Depressive Disorder and Non-Major Depressive Disorder” in which it stated, in part:
“It is difficult to conclude a causal relationship between paroxetine and suicidality due to the small incidence and absolute number of events, the retrospective nature of this meta-analysis, and potential for confounding by the fact that the events of interest are a symptom of the psychiatric illnesses themselves. Although these most recent findings reveal evidence of a possible increased risk for suicidal behavior in adult patients with MDD [Major Depressive Disorder] and for younger adults for suicidal behavior or ideation with MDD and non-MDD disorders, we believe that the overall risk-benefit assessment for the young adult and the adult patient population remains positive … Based on these most recent findings in the adult patient dataset GSK concludes that some statements in the approved prescribing information will need to be amended to reflect the results from this analysis. GSK believes that labeling revisions and/or direct communication with Health Care Professionals (HCPs) should be undertaken.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) as a result of a bad drug or a defective drug in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a pharmaceutical claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your drug claim for you and represent you in a claim against a pharmaceutical company, if appropriate.
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