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SSRI News: Paxil Birth Defects Lawsuits Settled

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Philadelphia, PAFamilies with SSRI birth defect lawsuits pending may find some hope in recent news concerning Paxil litigation. After several studies were released linking Paxil and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants to congenital heart defects and other birth defects, a number of lawsuits were filed. Now comes news that GlaxoSmithKline has settled many of those Paxil-related lawsuits.

According to the Legal Intelligencer on 6/23/10, GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to settle nearly 200 cases alleging that Paxil caused birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Approximately eight months ago, one lawsuit went to trial and a Philadelphia jury awarded the plaintiff $2.5 million.

Since then, GlaxoSmithKline has settled all other cases scheduled for trial. Although the company initially appealed the $2.5 million award, it later settled that case and approximately 190 other lawsuits.

Details of the lawsuits have been kept confidential, although GlaxoSmithKline has reportedly confirmed the lawsuits were settled.

A GlaxoSmithKline spokesperson said the company agreed to settle some cases to avoid "the costs, burdens and uncertainties of ongoing litigation." According to the Legal Intelligencer, the majority of cases that have settled involve cardiac birth defects.

Settling the cases is not an admission of guilt by GlaxoSmithKline; nor does it mean that all cases alleging Paxil is linked to a child's birth defects will be settled.

The one lawsuit to go to trial, Kilker v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. d/b/a GlaxoSmithKline, was filed by the family of Lyam Kilker, who was born with three congenital defects after his mother took Paxil during pregnancy. Those defects include a defect between the upper two heart chambers, a defect in the lower two chambers and a hole in the wall of his heart, known as an interrupted aortic arch. Kilker has already undergone surgery and his lawyer argued that he will require further surgery as he grows.

The jury in the Kilker lawsuit found GlaxoSmithKline failed to adequately warn physicians that babies exposed to Paxil prior to birth could be at increased risk of birth defects.

GlaxoSmithKline has defended Paxil, saying scientific evidence does not show exposure to the antidepressant (known generically as Paroxetine) caused Kilker's birth defects.

The next lawsuits are scheduled for court in fall of 2010.

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