Poor Paxil. It was the first antidepressant to be slapped with a suicide-risk warning. It's drawn fire--and lawsuits--from U.S. patients who say they went into withdrawal when trying to quit treatment. Now, a group of UK patients are suing GlaxoSmithKline for the same withdrawal problems, seeking up to $98,000 per patient, or $31 million-plus with the 314 patients participating so far. Of course, it's not simply the monetary damages that could hurt, but the attendant publicity, which might turn off potential patients.
Sold as Seroxat in the UK, the drug is "defective" under Britain's 1987 Consumer Protection Act--or so says the patients' attorney, Mark Harvey of the law firm Hugh James. A few of his clients have not been able to stop taking Seroxat because of their withdrawal symptoms, he says. When they began treatment, not only was there no warning of withdrawal problems on the drug's label, but it specifically stated that the drug was not addictive.
Harvey has been working on this suit since at least 2004, when it first became fashionable to sue Glaxo for Paxil/Seroxat-related woes. The drug was banned in the UK for kids under 18 in 2003; since then, lawsuits over paroxetine's side effects have flown on both sides of the Atlantic.