Day one of Dolin v GSK is over and, as expected, GSK are, it appears, trying to muddy the name of the victim, Stewart Dolin.
David E. Rapoport opened the arguments on behalf of Stewart Dolin’s widow, Wendy. He explained to them how, in 1989, GSK submitted its “Integrated Summary of Safety Information” to seek approval of Paxil for adult depression. He also explained to the jury how the submission conveniently hid the link to Paxil being responsible for inducing suicide and suicidal thinking in patients during the clinical trials. (Back story) Rapoport also told the jury about Stewart’s life and how he had, in the past, been prescribed Paxil and Sertraline (Zoloft).
GSK made several objections, one of which was the objection to Rapoport’s use of the word “Paxil” – Part of GSK’s defence is that Stewart took a generic version of Paxil made by Mylan, ergo they are not responsible for his Paxil induced suicide – I say “Paxil” because whoever manufactured it after the patent ran out did so using GSK’s brand, a brand that became a household name. Stewart’s prescribing doctor even referred to it as Paxil. It was a churlish objection from GSK and one that, I think, will have little or no bearing on the outcome of this trial.
All in all, Rapoport spoke for around two hours, after which the Judge called for a 15 minute recess.
Next up was GSK, represented, in part by Andrew Bayman of King & Spalding, and, as expected, they were slick and focused on Stewart Dolin’s mental state at the time of his death. They tried to state that Stewart Dolin had work related problems which caused his “suicide”. Interestingly, they also claimed that Paxil does not cause suicide. So, effectively, every single person that has died by suicide whilst on Paxil did not die by suicide because of Paxil. Hard to believe given the amount of men, women and children that have died by violent suicide whilst taking Paxil.
GSK was represented by Andrew Bayman of King & Spalding and not Dentons as previously stated.
The fact that Paxil has a black-box warning was brushed over by GSK who claimed that the black box warning was put in place for all SSRIs and was meant as a red flag for prescribing physicians to monitor their patients.
GSK’s lawyer told the jury that he intended to speak for just an hour, an attempt at point-scoring exercise if ever I’ve seen one. However, approaching the hour the Judge intervened and told him his hour was almost up. He responded by saying he just needed to summarize which he plans to do do tomorrow morning.
Opening arguments is basically two parties setting out their stall. It was pretty obvious that GSK would go down this route (blame the victim). During the lead-up to this trial they have targeted Stewart’s widow, children, friends and expert witnesses.
Tomorrow morning they will no doubt reiterate their “blame-the-victim mantra” they tried to sell today. It’s the only defence they seem to have.