Zantac Lawsuit

Researching drug company and regulatory malfeasance for over 16 years
Humanist, humorist

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

From Chicago to New York - The Legacy of Stewart Dolin

Wendy and Stewart Dolin

Death by Deception

A couple of cracking pieces were published in the New York Times (NYT) 48 hours ago about Paxil and the Dolin vs. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) trial. The articles covered Paxil-induced akathisia and the flawed logic GSK vainly tried to use to defend its Chicago product liability case. (Paxil is a SSRI that, for many unsuspecting consumers, is neither safe nor effective.) Rabin adeptly highlights Paxil-induced akathisia, a serious condition caused by SSRIs that often precipitates iatrogenic suicide. Paxil's drug label, like most SSRI labels, states akathisia is a "feeling of inner-restlessness" and, well, that's about it. But Rabin rightfully communicates that akathisia is "a state of acute physical and psychological agitation."

I tip my hat to Rabin and her balanced, informative articles as major news outlets rarely cover pharma topics without being influenced by industry funding and shady spokespersons. Many organizations that freely provide "expert" sources for quotes and soundbites take drug money and/or have strong industry ties. These include the Science Media Centre, the MHRA, the FDA, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

In addition, many newspapers fail to require that authors and sources ethically disclose conflicts of interests. We recently saw this when The Guardian published Mark Brown's article, 'Antidepressants work, so why do we shame people for taking them?' but failed to inform readers of any conflicts of interest the author and sources may have to the pharmaceutical industry and "mental health" organizations. When a reader asked The Guardian if it follows any journalistic standards for ethical disclosure, The Guardian responded with censorship, removed the comment from public view and absurdly claimed the reader failed to "abide by our community standards."

Click images to enlarge

Apparently, The Guardian believes the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) doesn't have appropriate community standards either. The SPJ code states ethical journalism should "serve the public" and "avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived." Authors should "disclose unavoidable conflicts."

For all the above reasons, it is refreshing to see Rabin's NYT reporting. Lawsuit Over a Suicide Points to a Risk of Antidepressants.' and 'Suicide Data Incorrectly Reported in Drug Trials', Suit Claimedhave received many comments in the past 48 hours. Some readers share their own experiences with prescription drug-induced akathisia and ignorant doctors. Others refuse to accept that SSRIs can cause unwanted deaths. Many deniers do so because it's difficult to realize their trusted doctors may unwittingly be poisoning them. Other deniers may believe SSRIs like Paxil are helping them when in actuality, the symptoms they experience upon stopping these drugs are caused by withdrawal and not by any underlying illness

Intentional Omission & Labeling

Can you imagine if GSK and other pharmaceutical companies accurately described akathisia on Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft et al. labeling? Few people would buy these products. GSK argued at the Dolin trial that they did everything in their power to change the labeling but the FDA wouldn't let them. Boo hoo and not true: GSK had an opportunity to meet with the FDA, and GSK declined. Pharmaceutical marketing purposefully hides the truth about akathisia because companies want to cover up this deadly adverse drug reaction (ADR). Companies carefully craft SSRI labels and instruct young, pretty drug reps to downplay akathisia when talking to doctors about the products they peddle. Their profitable game of semantics creates a deadly game of Russian Roulette for unsuspecting consumers. However, the public is becoming increasingly aware of fraudulent marketing and akathisia. This progress is due in part to the families of SSRI victims who actively advocate for akathisia awareness and Informed Consent.

Outside the Chicago court house with mothers and wives whose loved ones were lost due to SSRI-induced akathisia and a lack of Informed Consent

My previous coverage of the Dolin trial (links at the foot of this post), showed the ineptness of GSK's attorneys, King & Spalding. It was clear from day one that Wendy Dolin's attorneys--Brent Wisner and Michael Baum of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman and David E. Rapoport and Matthew Sims of Rapoport Law Offices P.C.--are more talented lawyers than the clowns from King & Spalding. That they were able to bring the Dolin case to trial was an accomplishment in and of itself given the complexities of this ground-breaking case.

Some might not understand how one can sue a pharmaceutical company who didn't make the actual pill responsible for the victim's death. But Wendy's attorneys correctly looked at the labeling issues. Just who, exactly, is responsible for the product label? It is GSK, the makers of Paxil. The verdict is a landmark result, and one can see why GSK is disturbed. The Dolin verdict opens the door for other Paxil and generic Paxil victims to sue for suffering and death caused by GSK's drug and labeling. The successful Dolin verdict also may lead to similar lawsuits filed by victims of other generic drugs and mislabeling. Wendy's team had all the odds stacked against them, but they succeeded. It shows how compassion can play a vital role in successfully taking these cases to trial. I believe compassion and compelling evidence swung the jury.

King & Spalding offered no compassion nor compelling evidence during the trial. But GSK attorney, Andy Bayman, did utter some words he may now regret. He asked the jury, “Don’t you think if these medicines caused suicide someone would have spoken up?” The jury's verdict showed Bayman and GSK that the dead are speaking up through a very skilled team of compassionate attorneys.

Victim Blaming

I've covered the abhorrent criminal behavior of GSK for 11 years. However, when I attended the Dolin trial I was still a bit surprised to see just how unscrupulous GSK can be. The company is a tight ship run by dodgy captains and crew-members more befitting to a pirate movie starring Johnny Depp. (But the GSK movie would have to carry an R rating or 18 certificate.)

GSK and their ill-prepared attorneys futilely tried to blame everyone for Stewart's death. They claimed it was the FDA's fault. They claimed it was the doctor's fault. They claimed it was Stewart's fault. They claimed Dolin was mentally ill and, hence, jumped in front of a train after a normal business lunch. What I saw at the trial was shameless victim blaming--a PR tactic akin to the mental health industry's recent imaginary "pill shaming" campaign.

During the Dolin case, it emerged that 20 subjects died by suicide in Paxil clinical trials, and 80% of these deaths were consumers over the age of 30. All were taking Paxil and not placebo at the time of their deaths. Paxil, like other SSRIs, does not discriminate by age when it comes to causing akathisia. It, like other SSRIs, does not discriminate by age when it comes to creating withdrawal ADRs. I was flabbergasted when Dolin's brilliant attorneys showed the following display in court. I think the jury was surprised too, as Wendy's attorneys vividly highlighted the truth.

Plaintiff's Exhibit 347

GSK didn't vigorously deny its product causes akathisia and suicide. They focused more on keeping evidence out instead of downplaying the evidence that was already in. During the trial when Paxil withdrawal and birth defects were mentioned, GSK's legal clowns repeatedly objected. Heaven forbid the jury to hear that Paxil not only can cause violent, unwanted deaths, but that Paxil also causes harm to fetuses and severe withdrawal ADRs.

Since the Dolin verdict, I've been at loggerheads with British drug regulator, the MHRA, to learn why there is no stringent warning for adults taking SSRIs. It is bizarre that a regulator would refuse to place a suicide warning on a drug that causes akathisia and death. When I've requested data from the MHRA, they play the pharmaceutical industry's game of semantics or ask that I pay for information. They made the payment request claiming it will take them too much time to research and reply. This information should be free and available to the public.

Nevertheless, the public is increasingly becoming aware of akathisia--a word with a melodic rhythm that sounds like some sort of sweet tasting pudding, not a condition that causes suicidal thoughts and suicide. GSK, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, et al. have known about akathisia for decades but choose to hide the truth to make a buck. They could use some of their dollars to wipe their blood-stained hands after each avoidable death their greedy business plan creates. But some people don't mind blood on their hands and would never waste an ill-gotten dollar.

Preventing Prescribed Suicide

As for Stewart's widow, Wendy, she continues to bang the drum for drug safety. A $3 million award from the jury, of which she has not yet seen a penny, doesn't dampen her resolve to ensure other families don't bury loved ones whose avoidable deaths were precipitated by prescriptions. For more information about akathisia, see the Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin website. MISSD is a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers of akathisia. In October, MISSD will hold its third annual fund raising event in Chicago.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, organizations such as AFSP and NAMI could join MISSD to reduce deaths caused by prescription drugs. However, given that the pharmaceutical companies are some of their biggest financial donors, it is doubtful they will ever earnestly work to reduce iatrogenic suicides.

AFSP's financial report is here. One of their largest donors, Johnson & Johnson, was forced to pay a $2.2 billion fine for fraudulently marketing the antipsychotic Risperdal to children. (Source)

NAMI's financial report is here. They conceal the amount of drug money they take, but one of their biggest "supporters" is Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, makers of the SSRI Zoloft. Pfizer was forced to pay a $2.3 billion fine for "misbranding" and provided kickbacks to health-care providers to encourage them to prescribe drugs including Zoloft. (Source)

Bob Fiddaman

Coverage of the Dolin Trial

Dolin v GSK - Opening Arguments

Dolin Vs GSK - Day Two - "Jack-In-The-Box"

Dolin vs GSK - Healy 'Rocks Da House'

Dolin Vs GSK - JP Garnier Video Deposition

Dolin Vs GSK - The Dunbar Tape

Dolin Vs GSK - Day 4 - Slam Dunk

Dolin Vs GSK - 8.9 Suicide Increase For Adult Paxil Users

Dolin Vs GSK - Day 6 - Ass Kicking Semantics

Dolin Vs GSK - Day 7 - Abraham Lincoln

Dolin Vs GSK - Day 8 - Get to the Point, Todd!

Dolin Vs GSK - Glenmullen Nails It!

Dolin Vs GSK - "Babes"

Dolin Vs GSK - Wendy's Cross and GSK's Petition

Dolin Vs GSK - Robert "Bling Bling" Gibbons

Dolin Vs GSK: Suicide Prevention Warning "Futile", Claims GSK Exec

Dolin Vs GSK : Jury shown List of the Dead in Paxil Clinical Trials

Dolin Vs GSK: Last Man Standing & The Return of Dr. Healy

Dolin Vs GSK: Closing Arguments

Dolin Vs GSK - The Verdict

Exclusive: Interview With Wendy Dolin

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