Recent news has focused extensively on Glaxo Smith Kline’s extensive, $2.4 billion settlement of numerous ongoing lawsuits pertaining to several of its flagship drugs. Part of this series of settlements is intended to go toward cases involving the company’s flagship antidepressant, Paxil. The exact amount? A cool $1 billion. Very nearly half of Glaxo’s entire legal defense budget for such matters is being allotted toward settling cases pertaining to just one of its drugs.
The settlement touches on 800 cases and closes the book on them, which is an average of approximately $1.25 million per case. This isn’t to say this is the amount awarded to each plaintiff, of course — much of it likely will go to clearing up legal fees and the like. Regardless, it is an incredible sum of money to be paying, especially as Glaxo insists that the decision does not acknowledge the culpability of their medicine in the cases. The decision, they insist, is merely to settle the matter and move forward with reputation untarnished.
Regardless of such wrangling, the first case in the Paxil birth defect trials that went to court was an unequivocal loss for the corporation, with the jury overwhelmingly deciding that the company had been negligent in failure to warn. Furthermore, another 100 cases or so still are pending against the company. The details of ongoing litigation are always limited, and terms of the settlement are confidential despite the release of the sum involved in this one aspect of the cases.
Of these remaining unsettled cases, three are scheduled to go to trial as soon as the end of this year. Lawyers on both sides of the lawsuit acknowledge that Glaxo’s loss in the test case is a strong indicator of how future cases may go as the matter continues to unfold.