Although I wasn't surprised that GlaxoSmithKline settled, I was really surprised at the amount - it was much more than I ever anticipated," says Janice Williams.
"I went through a lot of anguish with Paxil and my settlement was justified but I was amazed with the amount awarded because I didn't have high expectations," says Williams (not her real name due to a stipulation of the settlement).
"I was on Paxil for six or seven years before I really knew the disastrous side effects. I never put two and two together until I read about the dangers of Paxil on the Internet; I know that my doctor was never informed of its side effects. He didn't have to testify but the courts did have all my medical records from him.
For so long I had a buzzing in my head and a numbness in my arm. When I got my heart rate up (I am a fitness trainer and it was unavoidable - I trained clients at least five times a week) I got so lightheaded that I would almost pass out. It would happen right in the middle of teaching and I never knew the reason why - it never occurred to me to stop taking Paxil.
But when I did decide to wean myself of Paxil, it was even worse. I thought I knew how to get off Paxil because I read a lot about it. But the physical withdrawals were hard, especially with kids. I didn't realize until three weeks into weaning myself off this drug that I would have an emotional meltdown. My whole personality flipped: I behaved irrationally at work, telling one outrageous lie after another and then making up bizarre stories to leave work. I was completely out of it and finally went to my doctor and told him that I couldn't work. That's when I found out that I shouldn't have weaned myself off Paxil. He told me that Paxil would be better to take than Prozac but I couldn't discontinue taking it.
I went on disability in June 2004 and then got laid off from work. Shortly thereafter I came across information about Paxil lawsuits. 'Ohmigod,' I said to myself - I realized how lucky I was to be alive. With the symptoms I had experienced, I could have had a heart attack and died!
I filled out a complaint form on lawyersandsettlements.com and a few days afterward a lawyer contacted me. The law firm did everything - they obtained my medical records, the works. I just sat back and let them take care of everything and I don't think I would have been awarded anything if not for them. At this time I was still depressed but had no idea of the severity of my illness. I was suppressing my depression because of my daughter. At about this same time I went through a divorce and that was a living hell. Thank God the lawyers helped me. And my therapist was a huge help; he said I was doing well considering how much was on my plate, especially coming off Paxil.
Finally, the ball was in my court. I remember signing a contract and corresponding with the lawyers - everything was in writing. I would check in with them about once a month. Then I let it go for about six or eight months because I started a new job and tried to get on with my life.
Then I got an e-mail. The lawyers said they had a settlement - each settlement was individual per case; some people got more than others because many kids actually died from Paxil - and they wanted me to look it over. I was very happy and surprised. There was no negotiating. My lawyers said 'This amount is what you should have,' and that is what I got from GlaxoSmithKline.