Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Guilford & Schiavo vs. Glaxo Smithkline Corporation

Mass. group sues Paxil drugmaker

By Ellen Barry
Globe Staff

A group of Massachusetts plaintiffs filed a class-action suit earlier this month against the maker of the blockbuster antidepressant Paxil, alleging that withdrawal from the drug brought on such ill effects as nausea, sweating, agitation, tremors, insomnia, dizziness, and the sensation of electric ”zaps” in the brain.

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Guilford & Schiavo vs. Glaxo Smithkline Corporation

10/26/2002

Mass. group sues Paxil drugmaker

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/299/nation/Mass_group_sues_Paxil_drugmaker+.shtml

By Ellen Barry
Globe Staff

To learn more, go to http://www.baumhedlundlaw.com.

A group of Massachusetts plaintiffs filed a class-action suit earlier this month against the maker of the blockbuster antidepressant Paxil, alleging that withdrawal from the drug brought on such ill effects as nausea, sweating, agitation, tremors, insomnia, dizziness, and the sensation of electric ”zaps” in the brain.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 9 in Suffolk Superior Court, is part of a multipronged legal challenge to Paxil, taken by millions of people in the United States alone. It joins a nationwide class-action suit and nine other statewide lawsuits in asserting that GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures Paxil, intentionally misled physicians and consumers about the drug’s ”addictive” qualities – an allegation that was denied yesterday by the company and the physicians who recommend it.

Paxil is one of a multibillion-dollar class of drugs – including Prozac and Zoloft – that relieve depression by building up levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin around nerve endings in the brain. Called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, the drugs have succeeded in large part because they lack the serious side effects of earlier treatments for depression and anxiety, including habituation. And although previous lawsuits have alleged that SSRIs can spur violence, they have had little effect on the drugs’ enormous popularity.

Sales of Paxil, which received FDA approval in 1992, lagged for years behind competitors Prozac and Zoloft, but have benefited from the expiration of Prozac’s patent and by its increasing use for anxiety disorders. Last year it was GlaxoSmithKline’s top-selling drug, netting the company $2.7 billion, a spokesman said.

The company acknowledges that there are side effects to the ”discontinuation” of Paxil, including dizziness and occasionally abnormal dreaming and the sensation of electric shocks, but most last no longer than two weeks, said spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne. Rhyne added that ”any claims that Paxil is addictive are without foundation.”

But Janelle Leonard, a Bradford schoolteacher, said neither she nor her doctor were prepared for what happened when she decided to stop taking Paxil. Only when she accessed Internet chatrooms – where dozens of people compared their experiences upon going off Paxil – did she realize where her disabling symptoms were coming from.

”Nobody had told me it was habit-forming,” said Leonard, who is 30. ”I ended up really ill … I was bedridden, sick. I had insomnia. I was paranoid, and I was still sick to my stomach. I had diarrhea. I couldn’t leave the house.”
So far, 6,000 would-be plaintiffs have contacted the Los Angeles law firm that filed the nationwide lawsuit, and 1,000 have been confirmed as plaintiffs, said Karen Barth, lead counsel for Baum, Hedlund, Aristei, Guilford & Schiavo. The nationwide lawsuit will reach the certification phase on Nov. 18, and attorneys plan to file lawsuits in all 50 states in case the nationwide suit does not go forward, she said.

The suit had resulted in an injuction against GlaxoSmithKline not to advertise Paxil as ”nonhabit-forming.” The judge rescinded her order Oct. 11, after the Food and Drug Adminsitration determined that the ads were not misleading.
Barth’s law firm has brought previous class-action suits on behalf of the families of patients who committed suicide while taking Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft – but the suicides have been so rare that they have had little ripple effect on the public, she said.

A lawsuit based on the effects of withdrawal may have more traction, because the experience is far more widespread, said Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Harvard University psychiatrist and author of ”Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and other Antidepressants with Safe, Effective Alternatives. ”

”You have countless individuals who have terrible experiences. Too many doctors have seen this, it’s too undeniable. Too many patients are very, very upset by it,” Glenmullen said.

But several psychopharmacologists interviewed said they rejected offhand the idea that SSRIs are addictive. Although the brain does adapt to SSRIs, the term ”addiction” suggests craving, intoxication, or an increased tolerance that requires ever-higher doses, none of which have been documented with Paxil, said Dr. Alexander Bodkin, a research psychiatrist at McLean Hospital.

”Insulin is habit-forming. Digitalis is habit-forming,” said Dr. William Appleton of Harvard University. ”Exercise is habit-forming, but no one ever brings a class-action suit against that.”

But perhaps, Appleton said, the lawsuit is just part of a predictable backlash against SSRIs, which were greeted as wonder drugs a decade ago.
”One of the interesting things about drugs is they’re a little bit like shopping centers,” said Appleton, author of ”Prozac and the New Antidepressants. ” ”They come in clean and brand-new and full of hope,” he said. ”They go out old and tired and dirty.”

This story ran on page A3 of the Boston Globe on 10/26/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Going Crazy after 10 Days on Paxil and Xanax

“I realized that the majority of my symptoms were directly related to the Paxil.”

 

I’m a 31 year old female (and a registered nurse) I have 2 young children, recently I went through a lot of loss in my life. My mother in law battling her second brain tumor, and I cared for my grandfather in his home until his death. During this time I became very anxious and started having some neurological symptoms of twitching and fatigue. My physician suggested I get to see a neurologist to rule out MS.

That was the day I had my first panic attack (seems mild to me now.) I then realized I could not see a neurologist for over 2 months. The anxiety intensified, my M.d. prescribed Xanax and Paxil.

The first day I only required a 1/2 of a .25mg of Xanax. But by day 3 on Paxil I was taking 2 whole tabs of Xanax with no relief. In just 3 days I began going crazy. I had my husband take me to the hospital. I was not sleeping, eating, I was very dizzy. I had tingling, burning, numbness all over my body, headaches, and strange tremors and electrical sensations. Many of these symptoms mimic the symptoms of MS. I went through the whole battery of tests, all negative.

It was not until day 7 of Paxil that I realized that the majority of my symptoms were directly related to the Paxil. I weaned myself over 3 days, (only on it for 7 days before) It has only been 8 days now, I am feeling about 50% better. Every morning I wake up and go for my morning walk (3 miles) It takes so much out of me, but I know it is important. When I come home I have to prepare myself for the long day of taking care of my children. I am trying to stay busy and surround myself with alot of very supportive people.

At this point my three biggest complaints are dizziness, extreme fatigue, and inability to sleep. I just wanted to know if my story sounds familiar, (I had no mental health history before 3 weeks ago!) I just have to keep thinking that I will be better someday. Thanks for your support. My love and prayers to all of you suffering.

Jenny

 

8/6/2001

This is Survivor Story number 21.
Total number of stories in current database is 34

1,138 total views, 3 views today

Two Months of Hell on Luvox, Effexor, Paxil and Zoloft.

“Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?”

 

Hi, I am not a teenager, but I was put on my first anti-depressant at 25 years of age. I was mostly depressed about my relationship at the time, but had always been anxious and unmotivated so I thought the doctor was correct.

I lived through two months of absolute Hell. First Luvox, then Effexor, then Paxil, then Zoloft…all of which I had severe tremors and dystonia while taking within days. My Dr. acted like I was psychosomatic. I became so ill during this time that I don’t recall half what happened. My now husband said it was terrifying to see me.

I quit the Doctor and am now 29 years of age. My memory is shot and if I was unmotivated prior to this, I can only say that now I am completely apathetic and disinterested in almost everything. I have tried naturopathy, acupuncture, etc. Nothing helps.

I had a minor problem before and now I think my life may be ruined. Why don’t they tell people? What are they trying to do to us?

Thank you for your page. It means a lot to know I am not alone if nothing else.

Yana
yana97@prodigy.net

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 91.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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