After deliberating for seven hours, a state court jury in Philadelphia found Tuesday that GlaxoSmithKline failed to properly warn doctors and pregnant women about risks associated with its blockbuster antidepressant Paxil. The jury awarded $2.5 million in damages to the family of Lyam Kilker, who was born with heart defects after his mother took Paxil during her pregnancy. We wrote about the start of the trial here.
The case was the first to go to trial of more than 600 suits claiming that Glaxo hid knowledge of birth defect risks allegedly tied to Paxil. Tuesday's award in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas may pale in comparison to the $942 million in profits that Paxil generated for Glaxo last year, but the trial was closely watched as a test of Glaxo's vulnerability. The company released a statement saying it disagreed with the verdict and would appeal. "While we sympathize with Lyam Kilker and his family, the scientific evidence does not establish that exposure to Paxil during pregnancy caused his condition," the statement said.
We reached Sean Tracey of the The Tracey Law Firm, who represented Kilker and his mother, Michelle David, in Philadelphia following the verdict. He told us he had earlier quizzed jurors in the case on what had swayed their decision. "They said the fact that GSK never adequately studied their own drug was a big deal," Tracey said. "The animal testing they did showed that they had a potential problem, and they didn't follow up with adequate studies on animals of humans."
Glaxo was represented at the trial by King & Spalding partner Chilton Varner and by Joseph O'Neil of Philadelphia's Lavin, O'Neil, Ricci, Cedrone & DiSipio.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Litigation Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.