Note from CCHR: Also see attorney Karen Barth Menzies interview on Paxil withdrawal effects and documents withheld from the public http://www.youtube.com/cchrint#p/c/B9EA75455D155D89/3/Mpex0n0DXuc
by Jeff Feeley, November 9, 2010
GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the U.K.’s largest drugmaker, failed to properly warn consumers that its antidepressant drug Paxil could cause birth defects, a lawyer for the family of an injured teenager told jurors.
Glaxo officials had research from the 1980s showing Paxil caused deaths among the offspring of animal test subjects and didn’t provide clear warnings about those deaths, Kimberly Baden, a lawyer for Anna Blyth and her family, told a Philadelphia jury. Baden said the drug caused a narrowing of the aorta leading from the heart of Anna, now 14 years old.
“We believe the evidence will show Paxil caused Anna’s birth defects,” Baden said in opening statements in the trial. “We believe the warnings and instructions put out in 1995 weren’t appropriate and reasonable.”
The Blyth family’s case is the first over Paxil’s birth- defect risks to go to trial since the company agreed in July to pay more than $1 billion to settle 800 cases alleging the company failed to adequately warn consumers and their doctors about the drug’s hazards. The Blyth case wasn’t part of the settlement.
In the first Philadelphia trial, a jury ordered Glaxo in October 2009 to pay $2.5 million to the family of a 3-year-old boy born with heart defects his mother blamed on the drug.
$11.7 Billion in Sales
Glaxo officials contend Paxil played no role in Anna’s heart defects. They were most likely caused by genetics or the fact that her mother became pregnant late in life, Chilton Varner, a lawyer for the drugmaker, told jurors in her opening statement.
The deaths of Paxil animal test subjects had nothing “to do with Anna Blyth’s heart defects,” Varner said.
Approved in 1992 for U.S. use, Paxil generated about $793 million in sales in 2009, or about 1.8 percent of Glaxo’s total revenue. The company had $11.7 billion in U.S. Paxil sales over nine years starting in 1997, according to documents made public last year in a Pennsylvania trial over birth-defect claims.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Witty has moved to replace revenue lost to generic versions of drugs such as Paxil. The drugmaker said in May it plans to double revenue from India and China by 2015 as it cuts prices to match competitors in emerging markets.
The company has paid out more than $2 billion to resolve a wave of litigation over Paxil, including claims the anti- depressant caused suicides in some users and withdrawal symptoms. In July, Glaxo set aside $2.4 billion to resolve litigation over Paxil and its Avandia diabetes drug.
After announcing its settlement of Paxil suits this summer, the company faced a second wave of suits over the drugs, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who teaches classes about mass-tort cases. That’s not unusual once a big- dollar settlement is on the table, he said.
“You’ll have plaintiffs lawyers who hope to get in on a settlement by going out and finding some new cases,” Tobias said. “Glaxo probably feels it had to litigate this case to send a signal that it’s not going to settle every one of these birth-defect cases, especially if they are weak.”
Sarah Alspach, a Glaxo spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on how many Paxil birth-defect cases remain outstanding.
In Anna’s case, the Summerville, South Carolina, resident had to undergo two rounds of open-heart surgery within nine months of her birth, Baden told jurors.
Her mother, Marsha Blyth, had taken Paxil for a short time during her pregnancy to deal with depression, Baden noted.
Glaxo’s Paxil warning label didn’t make it clear that offspring from animals on which the drug had been tested died, she said.
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-09/glaxo-failed-to-warn-about-paxil-risks-lawyer-says-at-philadelphia-trial.html
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