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Monday, May 04, 2009

Ruling reopens drug lawsuits

Source: New Jersey Business News

TWO BIG CASES

Three days after ruling on Wyeth, the Supreme Court sent two suits over antidepressants back to the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, which had rejected them on preemption grounds.

The cases, both on alleged failure to warn of the risk of suicide, include one against Glaxo over Paxil and one against New York-based Pfizer over Zoloft. Pfizer has a strong presence in New Jersey, employing about 1,600 people at operations in Peapack-Gladstone, Bridgewater and Morris Plains.

GlaxoSmithKline was to go to trial May 4 in Philadelphia on claims by the family of Thomas Turek, who killed himself on his 47th birthday in 2003, eight days after he started taking Paxil.

The antidepressant made him agitated and paranoid, and the company understated its side effects, his family said.

The judge refused to throw out the case, citing the Wyeth decision. Glaxo settled the case April 24 on confidential terms.

Sarah Alspach, a Glaxo spokeswoman, confirmed the settlement and declined to comment further.

The court's decision on the Turek case will be extended to about 25 other Paxil suits in Philadelphia, the patients' lawyer, Bijan Esfandiari, said. The first trial will be July 20.

Glaxo, based in London, also settled a Paxil case set for trial Monday in Cheyenne, Wyo., after the court rejected the pre-emption argument because of the Wyeth decision. The family of Jack Van Dyke sued in 2005, claiming Paxil was responsible for his suicide. Settlement terms weren't disclosed.


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