Widow who sued pharmaceutical firm over husband’s suicide awarded $3M

Widow who sued pharmaceutical firm over husband’s suicide awarded $3M


A Glencoe woman hugged her attorneys after a jury in Chicago awarded her $3 million Thursday in a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company that she blamed for her husband’s suicide.

“We won!” she mouthed to one of her lawyers.

Wendy Dolin’s husband, Stewart, stepped in front of a CTA Blue Line train in the Loop on July 15, 2010. He had been taking paroxetine, a drug for depression and anxiety, and his widow claimed in her lawsuit that GlaxoSmithKline failed to warn her husband’s doctor of the drug’s increased risk of suicidal behavior, leading to his death.

GlaxoSmithKline makes Paxil, a brand-name version of paroxetine. Though Stewart Dolin was taking the generic form, his widow’s suit argued — and the jury agreed — that the pharmaceutical company was still responsible because the drugs are identical and have the same labeling.

Stewart Dolin was a corporate attorney and a partner at the Reed Smith law firm at the time of his death. He was 57.

Wendy Dolin called the verdict “a great day for consumers,” though she said the result was bittersweet.

“This for me has not just been about the money. This has always been about awareness to a health issue, and the public has to be aware of this,” she said after the verdict was announced in federal court following three days of jury deliberations.

“None of us here are anti-drug. That’s not the issue,” Dolin added, “but we are patient advocates and we hope that people will start asking better questions.”

Officials from the pharmaceutical company said the verdict was disappointing and that they plan to appeal.

“GSK maintains that because it did not manufacture or market the medicine ingested by Mr. Dolin, it should not be liable,” the company said in a statement. “Additionally, the Paxil label provided complete and adequate warnings during the time period relevant to this lawsuit.”

Wendy Dolin’s suit, which alleged negligence and wrongful death, originally named the generic drug manufacturer and its distributor as defendants, but U.S. District Judge James Zagel ruled earlier to release them from the suit, saying they had no control of the drug’s label.

“We’re hoping this sends a clear signal to (GSK) that they need to change the label” to indicate a suicide risk for those over the age of 25, said R. Brent Wisner, one of Wendy Dolin’s attorneys, who called the lack of such labeling “outrageous.”

“We’re just really happy that we finally had a chance to bring all this to court for the first time (and) show all these documents to the public which had, until this day, been under seal,” he said.

Wendy Dolin now advocates for patient safety and aims to raise awareness about akathisia, a state of restlessness or anxiety that sometimes occurs as a side effect of certain antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. She has started a nonprofit organization, the Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in memory of Stewart Dolin.

“I think Stewart would be very proud of his family and how we’ve all stood together and made a difference,” Wendy Dolin said, “that we didn’t allow this injustice.”

If a corporate entity can be held responsible for medication that they originally produced… can be held responsible for a pt committing suicide when taking that medication..

It is a know fact that chronic pain pts have a twice possibility of committing suicide.. so if some entity fails to treat chronic pain or reduces a otherwise stable chronic pain pts medication and they commit suicide.. could they he held responsible for their suicide ?

3 Responses

  1. No one seems interested in the HEAVY METALS undisclosed in ADHD and other meds. An “Oxycodone” nearly causing an aneurism; I returned it and told the pharmacist it needs to be analyzed, he said it wasn’t allowed.
    FDA, CDC, NIH, office of mental health, all not interested in our legitimate pain and mental health. The broken record of “addiction” is so played-out as to sound retarded; it is retarded, dangerous, unbelievable. I totally believe the CDC, and FDA want suicides, as to get off the hook from death due to the stress on the heart, kidneys, and other repeatedly shocked systems from the monthly or sudden withdrawal of medically necessary and life sustaining pain medications, and the blows to the brains chemistry as well.
    I pray to see the day when this lethal abuse stops before it’s too late.

  2. God be with you Mrs Dolin. I understand from 2 sides, I was placed on increasing doses of a med that made me want to lay down in front of a truck. The doctors never ask if it helps, they just refill and raise the dose. Thank God I came across the book, “What you don’t know about your drugs may be killing you!”, I started weaning off and told my docs. My husband died 5 years ago from gross medical negligence. He’d had severe sleep apnea and the corrective surgery. As he was diagnosed with frontal dementia. By the time he had to be put into Assisted Living, I brought up the need for aspiration precautions, you have no uvula. The winter GI flu came, he vomited, was coughing, not eating. They ignored him for 24 hrs then sent him to a nearby hospital in early multi system failure, no next of kin. I got a callous call from an ICU nurse at 4am telling me he was dead. Made me ashamed to be an RN. Then the VA lawyers told me, too bad, so sad. He was 65 a loving husband, cherished father of 3 and had been a Financial Controller. I feel your pain.

  3. Just a tid bit of info,,,my hubby grow up in this area of Illinios,,,IT IS RICH,,,VERY VERY RICH,,,,its only a 20 -30 minute commute to Chi-Town,,and they have all trains to go ,”down town,”,,,very affluent,,,very gorgeous beautiful well kept OLD homes,,,beautiful wood work etc,,,landscapes are perfect everywhere,,its call the North Shore,,mary

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