October 16, 2009
Bad news for Glaxo. The first trial involving claims that the antidepressant Paxil causes birth defects ended with a $2.5 million jury verdict for the plaintiff. The family of Lyam Kilker sued GlaxoSmithKline in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, blaming the boy's heart defect on his mother's ingestion of Paxil during pregnancy. The jury, by a 10-2 vote, concluded that Glaxo negligently failed to warn of the risk and that Paxil caused the child's heart condition. While the jury awarded notably large compensatory damages (the family sought $1.2 million), it rejected punitive damages by deciding that the defendant's conduct was not "outrageous." The case is Kilker v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. dba GlaxoSmithKline. Here are links to reports at Philadelphia Inquirer, Pharmalot, Point of Law, and Law.com.
In addition to about 600 cases involving claims that Paxil causes birth defects, Glaxo has faced claims that Paxil increases the risk of suicide and homicide. The company has reportedly settled some suicide claims, and in 2001 a Wyoming jury rendered a $6.4 million verdict against Glaxo in a case involving a man who shot his family and himself after taking Paxil.
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