GSK's Paxil bill said to be $1B

GlaxoSmithKline has paid out almost $1 billion to settle lawsuits related to its antidepressant Paxil, Bloomberg reports, citing court records and sources familiar with the litigation. That total includes about $390 million for suicides or suicide attempts allegedly linked to the drug. Some $200 million has gone to settle cases related to Paxil addiction and birth defects and another $400 million to settle antitrust, fraud and design claims.

Some of these settlements, of course, have been made public. And the company had a provision for legal and other disputes of $3 billion-plus at the end of 2008 (that figure includes all disputes, not just Paxil). But analyst Navid Malik of Matrix Corporate Capital told Bloomberg that the $1 billion in legal costs for Paxil "would be worse than many people are expecting."

The company wouldn't confirm the $1 billion tote-up. "It would be inappropriate and potentially misleading to aggregate payments in these various types of litigation," a spokeswoman told the news service via email.

That figure could continue to grow, some industry-watchers believe. Some 600 birth-defect claims remain outstanding. But only about a dozen of the suicide-related suits haven't been settled. "A liability totaling $1.5 billion is possible," a Panmure Gordon analysts wrote to investors after a birth-defect case was decided in favor of the plaintiff.

But with cases remaining untried--and even some of the wrapped-up suits awaiting appeal--there's no way of knowing where the eventual total will fall. And to put things into perspective, even a $1.5 billion legal bill won't set any records.

- see the Bloomberg story