PAXIL, GLAXO-SMITHKLINE, HIT WITH $3 MILLION IN DAMAGES FOR SUICIDE .
The last dinner Wendy Dolin had with her husband, Stewart, he was so agitated that he was jiggling his leg under the table and could barely sit still. He had recently started a new antidepressant but still felt very anxious. “I don’t get it, Wen,” he said.
The next day, Mr. Dolin, a 57-year-old Chicago lawyer, paced up and down a train platform for several minutes and then threw himself in front of an oncoming train. Ms. Dolin soon became convinced that the drug her husband had started taking five days before his death — paroxetine, the generic form of Paxil — played a role in his suicide by triggering a side effect called akathisia, a state of acute physical and psychological agitation. Sufferers have described feeling as if they were “jumping out of their skin.”
The distress of akathisia may explain the heightened risk of suicide in some patients, some psychiatrists believe. The symptoms are so distressing, a drug company scientist wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, that patients may feel “death is a welcome result.”
Ms. Dolin sued the original manufacturer of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline, claiming the company had not sufficiently warned of the risks associated with the drug. In April, a jury awarded Ms. Dolin $3 million in damages.