Paxil is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class antidepressant linked to serious side effects since its debut in 1992, despite bringing billions of dollars in sales for manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. A few of the issues brought up in court filings include:
- Birth defects in children when taken during pregnancy – Women who use Paxil just before pregnancy or during the first trimester have double or even triple the risk of having a baby with serious birth defects like anencephaly, atrial septal defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, abdominal defects, ventricular septal defects and respiratory distress that are life-changing and often life-threatening.
- Increased suicide risk when taken by children and adolescents – Fourteen years after a major study concluded that Paxil was safe for teenagers, a 2015 re-analysis of the same data found that there were actually 11 Paxil users linked to suicidal or self-harming behaviors, compared to only one person in the placebo group.
- Increased incidence in withdrawal and addiction symptoms in adults – Though no studies have linked Paxil with addiction or withdrawal, the company has settled more than 3,200 lawsuits linked to reports that patients “cannot get off” the drug once they start using it. Common complaints after stopping the drug included: anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritability, and nausea.
When there are so many similar cases brought against a pharmaceutical company, they are often streamlined into Multi-District Litigation to eliminate duplicative discovery, conserve resources and maintain consistency.
Several past MDLs concerned Paxil lawsuits:
- Paxil withdrawal symptom litigation: MDL 1574 consolidated in the Central District of California contained 1,574 plaintiffs as of January 2006. The MDL was closed in settlement a month later, with each plaintiff receiving $50,000. All told, GSK paid $160 million to settle 3,200 withdrawal symptom lawsuits.
- Paxil suicide litigation: Currently, there is no history of mass tort filings related to the Paxil / suicide connection. The individual lawsuits filed must be tried or settled on a case-by-case basis.
- Paxil birth defect litigation: Paxil birth defect cases sprung up all around the country, but most wound up consolidated into a mass tort in the Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia. As of July 2010, 800 plaintiffs had settled for an average of $1.2 million per case, but there were still 100 lawsuits pending in Philadelphia. Several bellwether trials were scheduled, but many of the remaining cases were de-consolidated.
- Paxil withdrawal symptom trials: Cases regarding Paxil withdrawal and addiction charges were settled prior to court trials. No jury awards were given.
- Paxil suicide trials: The first Paxil suicide trial involved a plaintiff who killed his wife, daughter and granddaughter before taking his own life after using Paxil for just two days. Documents revealed in court showed the results of a GSK clinical study of 2,963 patients where subjects experienced extreme agitation, psychosis and hallucinations after using the drug for a very short time. Wyoming jurors awarded surviving family members $8 million.
- Paxil birth defect trials: The first Paxil birth defect case went to trial in October 2009. The boy suffered difficulty breathing, decreased appetite and chronic fatigue caused by two holes in his heart, an undeveloped aorta and circulatory issues necessitating open-heart surgery to enable his survival. The family’s attorney produced internal memos stating that scientific studies done on rats linking the drug to birth defects would be “buried,” as well as internal reviews demonstrating “alarmingly high” numbers of birth defects reported among pregnant users. The jurors awarded the family $2.5 million – twice the amount sought. The three remaining bellwether cases were settled before trial.
- Paxil withdrawal settlements: MDL 1574 consolidated in the Central District of California contained 1,574 plaintiffs as of January 2006. The MDL was closed in settlement a month later, with each plaintiff receiving about $50,000. All told, GSK paid $160 million to settle 3,200 withdrawal symptom lawsuits.
- Paxil suicide settlements: GSK agreed to pay an average of $300,000 to resolve 300 attempted suicide cases and an average of $2 million in 150 suicide cases.
- Paxil birth defect settlements: After the first bellwether trial, GSK agreed to settle more than 800 claims for over $1 billion, with an average payout of $1.25 million per case.
- Paxil punitive settlement: GSK also paid $2.5 million to New York to resolve claims that they withheld safety data pertaining to the antidepressant’s effect on children.
Latest updates on Paxil litigation
Though many cases have been settled and past MDLs closed, new Paxil cases may arise due to studies published in the British Medical Journal in 2015. One study – a re-analysis of data collected in the nineties and published back in 2001– verified the suspected link between Paxil and suicide risk among adolescents.
Another study found that women who took Prozac and Paxil early in their pregnancies had a 2 to 3.5 greater risk of having a child with birth defects. “Paxil use was associated with a defect in which a baby’s intestines protrude outside the body and with anencephaly, in which a baby is missing parts of the brain and skull, the study found,” reports the NY Daily News. Both antidepressants were also linked to increased incidence in heart defects.
Speak with an experienced Paxil injury lawyer today
If you or a loved one have been harmed by the use of Paxil, contact The Sanders Firm for free case evaluation.
- British Medical Journal - Specific SSRIs and birth defects: bayesian analysis to interpret new data in the context of previous reports http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h3190
- NY Daily News – Prozac, Paxil Linked To Birth Defects http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/prozac-paxil-linked-birth-defects-study-article-1.2290370
- Philly.com - First Paxil lawsuit in plaintiff's favor It's unclear what the jury's finding of negligence means to future cases. No punitive damages were awarded. http://articles.philly.com/2009-10-18/business/25272972_1_punitive-damages-plaintiffs-individual-cases
- Bloomberg - Glaxo Said to Have Paid $1 Billion Over Paxil Suits http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-07-20/glaxo-said-to-have-paid-1-billion-to-resolve-paxil-birth-defect-lawsuits
- Minn Post - Re-examination of Paxil study underscores concerns about company-sponsored clinical trials https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2015/09/re-examination-paxil-study-underscores-concerns-about-company-sponsored-clini
- Natural News - More Bad News for Paxil: New Study Says Antidepressant Drugs Next to Worthless http://www.naturalnews.com/027962_Paxil_antidepressants.html#ixzz3sQUfRHeW