Pharmaceutical Company Liable for Suicide

An Illinois lawsuit regarding an individual’s suicide in relation to antidepressant drugs has been groundbreaking.

A federal judge determined that drugmaker GlaxoSmith-Kline PLC (GSK) can be held liable for the suicide of a corporate and securities lawyer. The lawyer was on a generic version of Paxil, an antidepressant drug. This was not the brand name version of the drug made by GSK.

The decision of liability is currently in conflict with other court rulings throughout the country that state the makers of brand-name drugmakers cannot be held liable for injuries caused by generic drugs.

This lawsuit is highlighted in the recent JereBeasley Report which agrees that the finding of the brand-name drugmaker being held responsible for the injuries caused by a generic drug are legally sound.

Generic Paxil Antidepressant Causes Suicide

The suicide of the lawyer occurred in 2010. He was the onetime chairman of a large law firm’s corporate and securities group. He began taking paroxetine hydrochloride – the generic version of Paxil – to treat work-related anxiety and depression. Just six days after beginning to take the drug, the lawyer left his office and killed himself by jumping in front of a train.

The wife of the lawyer sued GSK and Mylan, Inc., the manufacturer of the generic drug. The lawsuit claimed that both failed to warn patients of the risk that the drugs was associated with in terms of suicidal behavior.

Mylan was dismissed from the lawsuit and only one portion of the GSK motion was granted. The drugmaker can be held negligent for the suicide, meaning that they are at fault in some form. Below is the order from the Judge in the case:

The injury here did indeed occur in connection with a product. And GSK manufactures products. Yet plaintiff has not brought suit against GSK for tortious conduct committed strictly as a manufacturer of products. And, through GSK implicitly urges to the contrary. I see no reason why all suits brought against GSK must be brought against GSK qua manufacturer.

According to the four factors that Illinois courts considers, GSK is found to “owe a duty” to the plaintiff. As stated in the JereBeasley Report, these factors are:

  • The reasonable foreseeability of an injury
  • The likelihood of an injury
  • The burden of guarding against the injury
  • The consequences of putting that burden on the defendant

The Judge in the case stated that the drugmaker, GSK should have expected that the manufacturers of generic drugs would make version of Paxil once the patent expired. The judge stated:

That GSK did not manufacture the pill (the lawyer) ingest is largely immaterial on this point. GSK will not be tasked with the burden of crafting one new warning label for Paxil, and then other discrete warnings for various generic iterations of the drug – that all of the iterations of paroxetine are bioequivalent and require the same warning is precisely the point.

It was also included in the report that through the Hatch-Waxman Act, GSK was “compensated for taking responsibility for paroxetine’s design and warning label.” Mylan was dismissed from the suit by the judge based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bartlett ruling in which federal law preempts design defect claims against generic-drug makers.

Pharmaceutical Drugs Causing Injuries

Our office keeps an eye on the various drugs that result in injuries to patients.

We urge any individual who has suffered injury after taking a prescription drug to call a products liability lawyer. It is imperative to hold these large companies accountable for their failure to warn patients and doctors of the risks associated with the medication.

To speak to a lawyer about your injuries, call 800.637.8170. Our lawyers will speak directly to you about your experience and the options that you have.


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