Jury says antidepressants kill
- Drugs firm ordered to pay $6.4 Million for Texas 'bloodbath' drugs case
Sarah Boseley, health correspondent
Friday June 8, 2001
The British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has been ordered to pay $6.4m (£4.7m) to the family of a man in the US who shot his wife, daughter and granddaughter and then killed himself while on the anti-depressant known as Paxil.
The verdict is a serious blow for drug companies which have made billions from Prozac - the class of drug that includes Paxil - and its sister drugs. It is the first time that a jury has agreed that the antidepressants can cause some people to become violent and suicidal. Other cases brought in the US have either been lost or settled out of court.
There will now be renewed pressure on manufacturers to issue warnings with the drugs.
Mr Vickery said the case had been a fair hearing which had established that Paxil and other drugs in the SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) class could cause violent acts in certain people, even though they were of great benefit to others. The jury decided the drug was 80% to blame for the four deaths.
"What Glaxo needs to do is to take heed of this verdict and become the industry leader, saying this jury is right, doctors need more information. [Glaxo] could become heroes from this," said Mr Vickery.
But GlaxoSmithKline firmly rejected the verdict, and said it would appeal. "We are saddened by this tragedy but we do not believe that Paxil had any responsibility for what happened on that day," said a spokesman. He said Paxil had gone through extensive clinical trials and been prescribed on more than 70m occasions by doctors.
David Healy, director of the North Wales department of psychological medicine, was a key witness for the Tobin family. His evidence to court suggested Paxil could produce inner turmoil even in healthy volunteers.
Dr Healy wrote to the medicines control agency in London after the verdict. He said the MCA should warn doctors about the drugs.
Graham Ross, the solicitor bringing a case against Eli Lilly, makers of Prozac, on behalf of the family of Reginald Payne, who killed himself and his wife after 11 days on the drug, said: "I think this is a vital decision... what is important is the decision on the facts - what is causing these effects, whatever the country."
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