Can I file a lawsuit in California claiming Paxil causes suicide?

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R. Brent Wisner - Class Action/Mass Torts - Super Lawyers

Answered by: R. Brent Wisner

Located in Los Angeles, CABaum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC

Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 310-207-3233
Fax: 310-820-7444

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A Paxil lawsuit may be filed on behalf of anyone who has suffered injury after attempting suicide or on behalf of the surviving heir of anyone who committed suicide after taking Paxil or paroxetine (generic Paxil).

To our knowledge, Baum Hedlund is the only plaintiffs’ law firm in the U.S. handling Paxil suicide litigation. In 2017, Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman secured a landmark victory in court against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) when a Chicago jury returned a $3 million verdict in favor of their client, Wendy Dolin. Ms. Dolin lost her husband Stewart to suicide in 2010. Stewart Dolin was taking a generic version of Paxil before he ended his life by leaping in front of a moving train.

The jury found that even though GSK did not manufacture the pills Mr. Dolin ingested, the company was responsible for the label and knew or should have known any failure to warn about suicide could result in harm to those taking generic versions of the drug.

Over 30 antidepressants (including Paxil) carry a black box warning for an increased risk of suicidal behavior in children, adolescents and young adults up to the age of 24. However, the original manufacturer of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline, has been aware for decades that Paxil can increase the risk of suicidal behavior for people of all ages. While GSK sold the Paxil new drug application (NDA) to another manufacturer, Apotex, in 2014, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that such a circumstance would not automatically absolve the original manufacturer from liability because “a successor manufacturer’s negligent failure to update the warning label is foreseeable” to the company selling the NDA.

Before GSK (then SmithKline Beecham) brought Paxil to market in 1992, the company conducted clinical trials that included suicide data. According to a former FDA official who testified on behalf of Wendy Dolin in her 2017 court case, GSK misrepresented the number of suicides and suicide attempts during clinical trials. Per the former FDA official’s testimony, GSK added suicides and suicide attempts to the placebo group that actually occurred during the clinical trial, which masked the heightened risk of Paxil over placebo.

GSK’s altered numbers made it appear as though individuals in the paroxetine group faced about the same risk of suicide and suicidal behavior as those who took a placebo. GSK trumpeted this data to the FDA, to physicians and in medical journals. However, an examination of the unaltered data shows the opposite: patients taking Paxil had nearly nine times the risk of committing or attempting suicide compared to those taking a placebo.  

GSK confirmed the Paxil suicide risk in 2006 when the company conducted an internal analysis of its own suicide data, finding a 6.7 times greater risk of Paxil patients of all ages experiencing suicidal behavior over placebo patients. That same year, an FDA analysis of select clinical trials involving adults found that taking Paxil resulted in a statistically significant 2.7 times increased risk of suicidal behavior compared to placebo for all indications.

Baum Hedlund is still accepting attempted suicide and suicide cases related to Paxil and paroxetine. You can learn more about Paxil and generic Paxil suicide cases here. If you would like to speak with me about filing a lawsuit, call 800-827-0087 or fill out the contact form on the preceding link. Baum Hedlund has represented thousands of people in cases against GSK alleging injury or wrongful death related to Paxil ingestion since the early 2000s.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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