Earlier this year I reported on how GSK, via their team of highly-paid lawyers, had targeted four expert witnesses that were due to give evidence in (Dolin v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. et al., case number 1:12-cv-06403)
For those that don’t know, Wendy Dolin had filed suit against GSK claiming that their antidepressant, Paxil, had induced the suicide of her husband, Stewart. Since filing, Wendy has, just like the four expert witnesses due to give expert opinion supporting her claim, has come under fire from GSK. In fact, Wendy Dolin has been sent more than 30 subpoenas from GSK, they have also made over 70 record requests and have shown the Dolin children their father’s private medical notes. To top it all, GSK’s lawyers have been asking (goading) Wendy about her love life since her husband killed himself.
Not satisfied with targeting a bereaved wife, GSK then turned their attention to four expert witnesses. One of those witnesses, Dr. David Healy, came under heavy fire from Glaxo’s gunslingers, King & Spalding. They had accused Healy of being a radical activist who held an extreme bias against GSK (insert tears here). Furthermore, GSK had probed into Healy’s private life and had, during a 10 hour deposition, talked more about his finances than the actual science behind Paxil and induced suicide.
The decision is in folks and…. (drum roll)..
GSK have been roundly trounced.
Judge James B. Zagel, in summary, said…
“I am denying all four of GSK’s motions to exclude. The Daubert criteria are satisfied when a well-credentialed expert provides well-supported opinions that are relevant and reliable. My decision does not, however, mean that the reliable opinions of all four of these expert witnesses are correct—reliability is a measure of consistency of opinions, not necessarily a measure of correctness. Such a determination will be the job of a fact-finder at trial.”
Healy, along with three other experts, namely; Dr. David Ross, Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, and Dr. Roger Grimson, will now be allowed to offer their expert opinions in the Dolin case, something that GSK have fought desperately hard to suppress and, as I suspect, may now be the factor in some sort of settlement being agreed upon.
This isn’t the first time GSK have faced claims that Paxil induces suicides in adults. In 2001 a jury returned a verdict that Paxil was responsible for inducing homicide and suicide in Don Schell, who had, some years previous, shot to death his wife, daughter and granddaughter before turning the gun on himself.
Glaxo were ordered to pay $6.4 million to the remaining family members.To the layman, it beggars belief why Glaxo would oppose the claims of Wendy Dolin given that they have already lost one Paxil induced suicide case. The mud-slinging and goading of plaintiff and expert witnesses doesn’t surprise me in the least, it’s what I have come to expect of Glaxo and their defence lawyers. Wendy Dolin isn’t the first plaintiff to have pressure put on her by Glaxo, she won’t be the last. Healy et al aren’t the first expert witnesses to have mud thrown at them, again, they won’t be the last.
If anything, this ruling has shown Glaxo that no matter how hard they try to suppress those who wish to seek the truth, they will always fail.
I hope the Dolin case goes the whole hog and isn’t settled. To put Paxil in the public eye (yet again) is something that needs to be done. The message that this antidepressant can cause homicidal and suicidal acts needs to be repeated. It is, in my opinion, a menace to society just as, I believe, GlaxoSmithKline are. Yeh, okay, we will have those that say Glaxo have saved millions of lives with vaccines and have helped millions of people with various respiratory diseases, fair enough, I guess, but that does not give them the right to market and manufacture drugs that can induce homicide and suicide – it’s akin to the defence of a serial killer, ‘He donated to charities every week your honour, so what if he killed a dozen or so adults, he’s a decent man, at heart.”
Glaxo need to step up to the plate. They need to compensate Wendy Dolin for her loss, they need to stop pussy-footing around and acknowledge that defending Paxil in suicide cases is a fruitless exercise, they know it, their shareholders know it and the general public know it. Paxil is a nasty drug that causes more harm than good. Glaxo claim Paxil has helped millions of people worldwide but just like the fictitious serial killer above, they throw a blanket over the darker side of Paxil, the induced homicide and suicide, the birth defects, the horrific withdrawal suffered by those trying to stop Paxil.
It will be interesting to see what Glaxo’s next step is regarding the Dolin case. They’ve thrown pretty much everything at the grieving widow but she has stood firm and remained strong because she knows that the truth will, eventually, out.