In prescription drug news, a jury recently decided that a doctor who prescribed Paxil over the phone must pay $1.5 million to the widow of a man who committed suicide. Joseph Mazella was a beloved high school basketball coach and assistant principal who had told his wife that he felt like his head was on fire.
Janice Mazella had gotten out of the shower one morning when she found her 51-year-old husband dead. Mazella had been prescribed Paxil by Dr. William Beals for 10 years over the phone. In August 2009, Joseph Mazella called Dr. Beals when he began to feel anxious again. Despite not seeing his patient for a decade, Dr. Beals doubled Mazella’s Paxil dose and added the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. A little more than a month later, Mazella committed suicide.
Jurors are notoriously reluctant to blame a suicide on a drug or a doctor. Instead, like most people, are apt to blame suicides on individuals. This verdict is evidence that people are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of psychiatric drugs possibly doing more harm than good.
Paxil came on the market in 1992. Since then, countless failure to warn lawsuits have been filed against GlaxoSmithKline alleging birth defects, suicide and addiction. According to ssristories.com, roughly 150 suicide cases were settled for ana average of about $2 million and about 300 cases involving suicide attempts were settled for an average of $300,000. Since 2007, the FDA has required GlaxoSmithKline to add warnings to the drug’s label that there is the potential for an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions.
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