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Mixed Results in Recent Paxil Lawsuits

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Philadelphia, PAWhen it comes to a potential Paxil lawsuit, each case must be judged on its own merits. Although some lawsuits alleging serious Paxil side effects, such as Paxil birth defects, have been settled, others have been dismissed from court.

In July 2010, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, reportedly settled approximately 800 lawsuits alleging Paxil birth defects for around $1 billion. The lawsuits reportedly alleged that Paxil caused birth defects in babies who were exposed to the antidepressant before their birth. At the time, The Wall Street Journal (7/20/10) quoted an e-mail from GlaxoSmithKline as saying the company "has reached an agreement to settle certain cases involving the use of Paxil during pregnancy. The details of those settlements are confidential. Other cases remain pending."

One such pending case was that of Anna Blyth, whose lawsuit alleged that she (now 14 years old) was born with cardiac birth defects that were caused by her mother's use of Paxil while pregnant. The lawsuit alleged that GlaxoSmithKline failed to warn that the use of Paxil could result in birth defects. Anna was born with a narrowing of her aorta.

GlaxoSmithKline defended itself, saying it acted responsibly in studying Paxil and marketing the antidepressant for use. The company also argued that Anna did not suffer any long-term negative effects from her heart problems.

The judge in that case dismissed the lawsuit halfway through the trial.

In another case, however, the family of a boy who died approximately six weeks after birth reached a settlement with GlaxoSmithKline for an undisclosed amount. The lawsuit, which was filed by Jennifer Berg, alleged that the use of Paxil during her pregnancy resulted in her son being born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), which ultimately resulted in his death.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (previously called primary pulmonary hypertension of the newborn), is a life-threatening condition in which the baby's circulatory system does not properly adapt to breathing on its own. The result is that blood does not properly reach the lungs, which prevents oxygenated blood from being circulated throughout the baby's body.

Symptoms of PPHN include rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, low oxygen levels and respiratory distress.

Paxil is an antidepressant in a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

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