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Woman sues over drug
TRACY KENNEDY , Register Citizen Staff 10/18/2003
LITCHFIELD - An area woman is suing the maker of Paxil, an antidepressant, in the death of her husband in 2001.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in Litchfield Superior Court, Erin Hopey, the widow of the late Douglas Bruce Hopey, and administer of his estate claims SmithKline Beecham Corporation, the maker of Paxil is to blame for her husband’s suicide.

Just months before Douglas Hopey’s death in December 2001, a Wyoming jury awarded $6.4 to plaintiffs in the first mass tort award against the maker of the antidepressant. The jury ruled the actions of a Paxil user who killed his wife, daughter, granddaughter and himself, was influenced by drug.

Since then numerous cases have been filed against the manufacturer across the country. In August the Connecticut Department of Children and Families was the first state agency to ban the use of Paxil in children.

The agency cited noted the government in the United Kingdom also banned the drug for children in June because of Paxil’s suicide risks. Although SmithKline Beecham which also does business as GlaxoSmith Kline sent healthcare professionals in that country a letter warning about suicide risks and withdrawal symptoms. Reports indicate the company has issued no such warning letter to American healthcare workers.

In the lawsuit filed on Hope’s behalf by Attorney Janis K. Malec of Hartford, the plaintiff claims the pharmaceutical company was negligent when it failed to warn patients and their doctors about the reported drug dependency, dangerous side effects of withdrawal. Further, the complaint notes standard mass tort allegations such misleading the Food and Drug Administration, defective labeling, fraud, breach of express and implied warranties.

The lawsuit claims medical and funeral reimbursement and punitive damages against the company for the estate and loss of consortium for Erin Hopey individually.

©The Register Citizen 2003
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