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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The Seroxat litigation Bailey and others v GlaxoSmithKline (UK) Ltd. 2002 - 2012

The Seroxat litigation Bailey and others v GlaxoSmithKline (UK) Ltd. 2002 - 2012

The Background
The Product: Seroxat (chemical name paroxetine) is an antidepressant of the Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class and was the fifth in the class to be licensed. The first two were withdrawn from the market for unrelated serious adverse effects. The fourth SSRI to be licensed was Eli Lilly's Prozac. Seroxat was initially licensed in the UK as a treatment for depression in 1990. It was marketed in the UK in 1991 by SmithKlineBeecham Ltd. Today, Seroxat is marketed worldwide by GlaxoSmithKline (UK) Ltd. (GSK) under different names including Paxil in the USA. It is prescribed as a treatment for six different conditions in the UK including, Depression, Social Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Panic Attacks.
BBC Panorama: In 2002, BBC Panorama reported a high number of adverse effects following antidepressant treatment with Seroxat. The adverse effects associated with the antidepressant comprise: i) withdrawal problems in response to reducing or ceasing to take Seroxat; ii) violence/aggression in response to increasing, reducing or ceasing to take Seroxat; and iii) suicidal thoughts or actions in response to increasing, reducing or ceasing to take Seroxat. During the programme, the Company denied that there were any 'addictive' properties associated with Seroxat. Nevertheless, following this programme, approx. 60,000 communications were received by the BBC describing adverse effects suffered by patients prescribed Seroxat. Several further Panorama programmes have investigated different aspects of the antidepressant's performance.
The Litigation:
Following the initial Panorama programme, Hugh James solicitors became the lead solicitors representing approximately 600 individuals who claimed that they had suffered harm when seeking to withdraw from Seroxat. A funding certificate was granted by the Legal Services Commission in 2006 and a Group Action identified as Bailey and Others v GlaxoSmithKline (UK) Ltd. was filed in the High Court in December 2007.
Case management to trial was undertaken by Senior Master Whitaker, who determined that the generic issues of the Claim should be heard at trial through lead cases selected by each party. In October 2010 and in advance of trial, Hugh James solicitors, advised the Claimants that prospects of success had diminished. Upon solicitor's advice, approximately two-thirds of the Claimants discontinued their legal action against GSK.
A core group of Claimants comprising approximately a third of the original Group Action, challenged Hugh James solicitors' decision and the solicitors' request to withdraw the public funding certificate. These Claimants considered that prospects of success remained good and stated their case through Claimant, Ms. Sarah Venn at Appeal on 14th December 2010. In response, the LSC's Special Committee Review Panel agreed to retain the funding certificate pending an independent Counsel's Opinion. In the interim period, the Panel increased the Claimants' prospects of success above that advised by Hugh James solicitors.
Dr. Sarah-Jane Richards, was the solicitor assigned to this litigation from its inception until February 2010 when she left Hugh James solicitors. Throughout that period and subsequently, she has never been in any doubt about the strength of the Claimants' case. In the event that a reasonable offer is not offered to the Claimants by the Defendants, it is her view that the litigation should continue to trial with good prospects of success. She confirmed this view to the LSC at Appeal in 2010.
In August 2011, Claimant Ms Sarah Venn instructed Dr. Richards to assist the LSC with collating and understanding the evidence supporting the litigation. Subsequently, Jacqueline Perry QC assisted by Niazi Fetto, 2 Temple Garden Chambers, were instructed in the case and have worked tirelessly alongside the three generic experts, Professor David Healy and Sarah-Jane Richards to provide the Commission with statements of support from each of the experts and an Opinion on Merits. The experts, Professor David Healy, Counsel and Dr. sarah- Jane Richards have given their time generously and without cost.
The Commission's decision on merits is anticipated in April, 2012.
For further information please contact Dr. Sarah-Jane Richards at or
telephone +44 (0)2920 786577

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