REUTERS, Apr 21: GlaxoSmithKline must pay US$3 million to a woman who sued the drug company over the death of her husband, a lawyer who committed suicide after taking a generic version of the antidepressant Paxil, a U.S. jury said on Thursday.
The jury’s award followed a trial in federal court in Chicago in a lawsuit over the death of Stewart Dolin, a partner at Reed Smith LLP who jumped in front of an oncoming commuter train in 2010 after taking a generic equivalent of GSK’s Paxil.
The verdict by the nine-member jury in favor of Dolin’s wife, Wendy Dolin, was confirmed by GSK, which said in a statement it was disappointed and planned to appeal.
“GSK maintains that because it did not manufacture or market the medicine ingested by Mr. Dolin, it should not be liable,” GSK said. “Additionally, the Paxil label provided complete and adequate warnings during the time period relevant to this lawsuit.”
Brent Wisner, a lawyer for Wendy Dolin, said his client was “very pleased” with the verdict, adding that “justice has been served.”
Wendy Dolin filed the lawsuit in 2012 against London-based GSK and Mylan, which manufactured paroxetine hydrochloride, the generic version of Paxil her 57-year-old husband was taking before his suicide.
A federal judge dismissed Mylan from the lawsuit in 2014 but allowed Dolin to proceed against GSK because it controlled the drug’s design and label, which applied to both the brand-name and generic versions of the drug.
The label included a “black box” warning that paroxetine, like all SSRI-type antidepressants, can increase the risk of suicidal behavior by users under age 25.
At trial, Dolin’s lawyers had requested US$39 million. They alleged GSK had evidence paroxetine increases the risk of suicide by older users by as much as 670 percent, yet failed to include that on the warning label.
In his opening statement on March 14, GSK attorney Andrew Bayman said the label was appropriate and its wording was mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The case is Dolin v. GlaxoSmithKline, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 12-cv-6403.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Barbara Grzincic in Baltimore; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)