That occurred six days after he began taking the antidepressant paroxetine. That was the generic version of GlaxoSmithKline's paxil. At that time, the labeling didn't include a warning about the increased risk of suicide for all ages. The warning had been restricted to the risk associated with children and young adults.
Yesterday, reports lawyer-journalist Kathryn Rubino at Abovethelaw.com, a Chicago jury found GSK liable for that suicide. The plaintiff was his widow Wendy Dolin. Here is Rubino's coverage.
The plaintiff lawyer Brent Wisner positioned this as a major victory. However, the jury award was $3 million. Wendy had requested $39 million.
The defense had attempted to associate the suicide with the professional challenges Stewart was experiencing at the time of his suicide. His firm, which had not been part of BigLaw, had merged with Reed Smith. There had been a negative in his recent performance review. A client was not satisfied. Also there had been upheaval in his particular practice group.
Obviously, the jury didn't buy the defense's argument. Also, the jury members, if they watch television, were probably aware of the detailed warnings currently about antidepressants. The major portion of the myriad commercials in the evening hours of television covers possible side effects. The reality is that the list is so long that those considering asking their medical doctor about trying them out likely decide not to take the risk.
The year of Stewart's suicide seems so long ago in terms of reforms in how BigPharma markets. Also, today, laypeople are aware that they have options to antidepressants. At the top of the list are mindfulness, aerobic activity and cognitive therapy. In addition, those trained in natural remedies have been educating the public on alternates to prescription medication.
It's sad that Stewart experienced clinical depression is what seem now to have been the dark ages in approaches to mood disorders.
GSK indicated it would appeal the ruling. One argument is that the company did not manufacture the generic version of paxil. Therefore, it contends it wasn't liable.
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