Antidepressants have been proven in court to cause homicidal behavior in some patients. In 2001, a federal jury in Cheyenne, Wyoming ordered SmithKline Beecham to pay 6.4 million dollars to relatives of a Paxil user who committed murder and suicide while on the drug.
Donald Schell, who up to the time of the tragedy had been a loving husband, father and grandfather, shot and killed his wife, daughter, granddaughter and himself after only 2 days on Paxil.
Andy Vickery was the lawyer for the plaintiffs. Through his research he discovered that SmithKline had known that some people become agitated or violent from Paxil. The drug’s packaging at that time did not include any warning of this possible development.
Currently, this warning is given regarding Paxil on WebMD:
“…However, studies have shown that a small number of people (especially people younger than 25) who take antidepressants for any condition may experience worsening depression, other mental/mood symptoms, or suicidal thoughts/attempts. Therefore, it is very important to talk with the doctor about the risks and benefits of antidepressant medication (especially for people younger than 25), even if treatment is not for a mental/mood condition.
“Tell the doctor immediately if you notice worsening depression/other psychiatric conditions, unusual behavior changes (including possible suicidal thoughts/attempts), or other mental/mood changes (including new/worsening anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, irritability, hostile/angry feelings, impulsive actions, severe restlessness, very rapid speech). Be especially watchful for these symptoms when a new antidepressant is started or when the dose is changed.”
But what of crimes committed while on antidepressant medication since 2001? Have there been other successful jury trials against drug companies manufacturing psychiatric drugs?
The answer is yes.
In 2012,GlaxoSmithKline pled guilty to a 3 part criminal indictment. They were forced to pay $3 billion in civil penalties and fines for promoting Paxil and Wellbutrin (another antidepressant) for unapproved uses. This included the use of these drugs on children and teenagers. They also did not report safety data regarding their diabetes drug, Avandia to the FDA; this was part of the suit as well.
The pharmaceutical giant was also found guilty of paying kickbacks to doctors, (according to federal prosecutors) “using every imaginable form of high-priced entertainment from Hawaiian vacations, paying doctors millions of dollars to go on speaking tours, to tickets to Madonna concerts.”
GlaxoSmithKline also helped publish a medical journal article that “misrepresented data from a clinical trial and exaggerated Paxil’s ability to treat depression in adolescents.”
The drugmaker, not surprisingly, admitted no wrongdoing
The settlement period covered the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. During that time, GlaxoSmithKline sold $10.4 billion dollars worth of Avandia, $5.9 billion of Wellbutrin and $11.6 billion of Paxil. These figures put the $3 billion dollar settlement in proportion: it is less than 15% of what they amassed from selling the 3 drugs implicated.
Perhaps Big Pharma believes the “collateral damage” (i.e. violent homicides, suicides and birth defects) is worth a paltry 15% of their profit. Since no remorse or admission of guilt was noted, one can expect more of the same in the future from these same companies.
The criminality of pharmaceutical companies and that of their minions, the psychiatrists, must be recognized for what it is. Since they admit no gullibility for the wake of human tragedy and misery they leave behind, their onslaught must be halted by prosecuting them in court for their crimes.