It was reported recently in Bloomberg News that GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) has paid almost $1 billion to resolve lawsuits over Paxil since it introduced the antidepressant in 1993. Included in the total are about $390 million for suicides or attempted suicides linked to the drug. As part of the total, GSK, the United Kingdom’s largest drugmaker, so far has paid $200 million to settle Paxil addiction and birth-defect cases and $400 million to resolve antitrust, fraud and design claims.
Frankly, I seriously doubt that the total payout by GSK is really known at this juncture. The London-based company hasn’t disclosed the settlement total in company filings. It has made public some accords. The drug manufacturer’s provision for legal and other non-tax disputes as of the end of 2008 was 1.9 billion pounds ($3.09 billion), according to its latest annual report. But that total included all legal matters, not just Paxil litigation.
Paxil has been on the market in the United States since 1993. About 450 suicide-related Paxil cases have been settled. Reportedly, only about a dozen of the cases filed haven’t been settled. The $1 billion total doesn’t include more than 600 claims that Paxil caused birth defects. The Paxil litigation had three major personal injury litigations over one drug – the suicide, the birth defect and the withdrawal cases. Since at least 2003, GlaxoSmithKline has faced claims in courts in this country that some Paxil users were subjected to an undisclosed, higher risk for suicide and birth defects.
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