The jury awarded the money in compensatory damages to the family of Lyam Kilker; the 3-year-old was born with heart defects his mother blamed on the drug. “The first win is always huge, especially when you get a jury saying the drug caused the injury,” Sean Tracey, the family’s lawyer, tells the news service.
This is the first time a jury considered claims that Glaxo knew Paxil caused birth defects and hid risks to increase profits. The drug maker disagrees with the verdict and will appeal, spokesman Kevin Colgan tells Bloomberg. "While we sympathize with Lyam Kilker and his family, the scientific evidence does not establish that exposure to Paxil during pregnancy caused his condition," Colgan says.
The jurors found 10-2 that Glaxo officials "negligently failed to warn" the doc treating Lyam’s mother about Paxil risks and concluded the pill was a "factual cause" of the child’s heart defects, Bloomberg writes, adding that the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court panel also found that Glaxo’s handling of the drug wasn’t "outrageous," meaning the family couldn’t seek punitive damages against the drugmaker.
Glaxo is also fighting suits in the US, Canada and the UK over claims that Paxil, whose generic name is paroxetine, causes homicidal and suicidal behavior. The drug maker settled some suicide claims, under undisclosed terms.
In 2004, the drugmaker agreed to pay the state of New York $2.5 million to resolve claims that officials suppressed research showing Paxil may increase suicide risk in young people. The settlement required Glaxo to publicly disclose the studies.
In 2001, a jury in Cheyenne, Wyoming, ordered Glaxo to pay $6.4 million to the relatives of a man who shot his family to death and then turned the gun on himself after taking Paxil. The case was settled while on appeal, according to Colgan, the Glaxo spokesman.
Securities analysts, meanwhile, don't see a financial threat. "I don’t think the link is proven, so there will likely be collective settlements which will keep costs low," Navid Malik, an analyst at Matrix Corporate Capital in London, tells Bloomberg. "If this was a threat to GSK, the first verdict might have been 100 times greater."