A $3 Million Verdict Reversed Over Generic Drug Suicide

  • Verdict

The Seventh Circuit sanctioned the appeal filed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to reverse a $3 million jury award given to the widow of Stewart Dolin, stating that the company cannot be held liable as Dolin took a generic version of GSK's antidepressant Paxil.

Stewart Dolin, a partner at Reed Smith LLP, consumed the generic version of Paxil before jumping in front of a commuter train to commit suicide in 2010. As per 2011 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, generic drug companies are not liable for failing to provide adequate label warnings since federal law requires them to use brand versions' labels only. Stewart's widow Wendy Dolin filed a lawsuit against GSK in 2012, alleging GSK had underreported adult suicide rates during its trial studies to the FDA. However, GSK blames FDA for failing to update Paxil label warnings regarding adult suicide despite several requests to do so. Paxil labels at present include warnings about suicide risks for patients below the age of 24.

The drug maker also faces several claims associated with birth defects and autism in babies if consumed by women during pregnancy. Other complications include increased risk of withdrawal symptoms. Lawsuits filed against GSK over Paxil side-effects are consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the Central District of California (withdrawal); and in the  Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas (birth defects). GSK paid $160 million to settle 3,200 withdrawal symptom lawsuits. MDL 1574 (Ninth Circuit: In re Paxil Products Liability Litigation), presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer, in the Central District of California holds lawsuits filed for withdrawal symptoms.

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