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GSK loses class-action ruling on Paxil in Canada

Judge rules cases over ties to birth defects can be tried together
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GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has shed much of the litigation tied to the health effects on newborns whose mothers took Paxil during pregnancy, but not all. Now a judge in Canada has ruled that a case there can become a class action, opening up the possibility for ugly litigation there.

The lawsuit that initiated the ruling was brought by a British Columbia woman whose daughter was born with a hole in her heart, The Globe and Mail reports. She started taking the drug in 2002 and continued it through her pregnancy in 2005. GlaxoSmithKline in September 2004 warned of the potential for respiratory complications in newborns whose mothers used Paxil during the third trimester of pregnancy. Lawyers allege that the drug could cause birth defects and that GlaxoSmithKline didn't do enough to warn doctors about the risks.

GlaxoSmithKline on Thursday responded to the ruling saying that the company had acted responsibly in testing, marketing and keeping consumers aware of potential dangers, The Canadian Press reports. Still the company in 2009 lost a jury verdict on this issue and the next year paid more than $1 billion to settle 800 similar suits in the U.S.

It is also not the only problem the company has faced with Paxil. Part of its massive $3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities this summer was tied to allegations that it had touted Paxil for off-label use in children and adolescents, despite data that failed to show that it was effective for kids.

- read The Globe and Mail's story
- get more from The Canadian Press

Special Report: GlaxoSmithKline - Pharma's Top 11 Marketing Settlements

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