A monthlong civil trial in Philadelphia in which the mother of 3-year-old Lyam Kilker argued that taking GlaxoSmithKline antidepressant Paxil while pregnant led to her son’s heart defect ended earlier this week with a jury awarding Lyam’s family $2.5 million for past and future medical expenses. The jury determined that GSK had failed to provide adequate warnings about Paxil’s risk to developing infants. The jury also discounted the drugmaker’s defense that its medication could not have harmed Lyam.
I can’t understand how GSK could attempt the defense it did. The prescribing information for Paxil specifically warns that taking the antidepressant during pregnancy can damage a developing baby’s heart. GSK’s defense weakens further when one considers–as the jury in the Kilker case could not because the information came to light several years after Lyam’s birth–that researchers have documented a significant increase in birth defects and developmental problems among babies whose mothers took Paxil and similar antidepressants while pregnant.
I have written before about the dangers Paxil poses to babies. The medication also raises users’ risk for worsened depression and suicide. GSK currently faces more than 600 birth defect suits related to Paxil, and the drugmaker has had to settle more than one claim of failing to warning prescribers and patients about Paxil’s risks.
Dangerous drugs have no place on pharmacy shelves or in people’s medicine cabinets. My colleagues and I have seen too many victims of unsafe and incorrectly administered prescriptions drugs. I would be happy to see no one else–adult or child–harmed by Paxil.
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