I have blogged about this verdict already today, but new details are beginning to emerge.
The $2.5 million (US) award granted by a Philadelphia jury in a verdict handed down this morning against GlaxoSmithKline in a lawsuit over its anti-depressant Paxil is more than twice what the plaintiff was seeking.
Michelle David, suing on behalf of her son Lyam Kilker, who turns four next week, had sought $1.2 million to cover future medical costs and other damages. The settlement granted by the jury in a 10-2 vote matches that awarded five years ago when the drug giant agreed to pay the state of New York $2.5 million to resolve claims that it suppressed research showing that Paxil may increase suicide risk in young people.
David's lawyer, Sean Tracey, hailed the verdict afterward, saying it was the first to "get a jury saying the drug caused the injury."
Business analysts following the company, however, were not so sure.
“I don’t think the link is proven, so there will likely be collective settlements which will keep costs low,” Navid Malik, an analyst at Matrix Corporate Capital in London with a buy rating on the stock, said in an e-mail. “If this was a threat to GSK, the first verdict might have been 100 times greater.”
Glaxo American depositary receipts, each representing two ordinary shares, fell 5 cents to $39.73 at 1:07 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, after dropping as much as 1.4 per cent when the verdict was announced. Glaxo fell 14 pence, or 1.1 per cent, to 1,246.5 pence in London.
I have yet to see the full decision by the jury, but Bloomberg is quoting it as saying that the jury found that Glaxo officials “negligently failed to warn” the doctor treating Lyam’s mother about Paxil’s risks and concluded the medicine was a “factual cause” of the child’s heart defects.
On the other hand, the jury also found that Glaxo’s handling of the drug wasn’t “outrageous,” meaning the family couldn’t seek punitive damages against the British drug company.
In a statement after the verdict came down the company said it disagreed with the decision and will appeal.
GlaxoSmithKline disagrees with the verdict and will 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. Very unfortunately, birth defects occur in three to five per cent of all live births, whether or not the mother was taking medication during pregnancy.
I have called Glaxo for more comment, but have not yet heard back.
Glaxo spokesman Kevin Colgan called and read me the statement quoted above.