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Bob Fiddaman Blog
GlaxoSmithKline, whose headquarters are in London, England, has been found guilty in the Rechtbank Midden-Nederland, in Utrecht for the damage suffered by a claimant caused by the use of Seroxat, known as Paxil in the US and Canada.
In 2001, Gerard Eggebeen (32) was first prescribed Seroxat at the age of 14. His GP, according to court documents, prescribed it to him due to family trauma. Eggebeen had, at the age of 12, witnessed his father suffer a fatal heart attack, a result of which saw him suffer trauma and depressive episodes for the next two years. Because of this, his mother sent him to see a doctor who prescribed Eggebeen, who was 14 at the time, a whopping 50mg of Seroxat.
At school he started to behave more and more hostile to fellow pupils and teachers, he sometimes waved a knife, was suspended several times and was finally expelled from school.
During the course of his life, Eggebeen has attempted suicide six times. He now resides at Emergis, a clinic for mental health care, where still suffers from the prolonged side effects of Seroxat, even though he hasn’t taken it since the age of 18.
In 2015, Eggebeen, like most people, stumbled on articles relating to Seroxat use in children. He was aghast and filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). GSK argued, unsuccessfully, that Eggebeen was ‘out of time’, a more common phrase meaning he did not meet the Statute of Limitations.
In the Nederlands, a limitation period of five years applies after the injured party has become aware of both the damage and the person liable for it, and in any case by the lapse of twenty years after the event causing the damage.
Looking at the online Court document, it appears that the Judge ruled for plaintiff because “GSK knew from about the year 2000 that paroxetine for children and adolescents (under 18) was not effective”, also, GSK knew that Seroxat “had serious side effects, including (in short) suicidal behavior.” Furthermore, GSK “had to make that knowledge public at the time, and they did not. If they had done so, Eggebeen would not have been prescribed it in 2001.”
The conclusion of the trial found, “GlaxoSmithKline has acted in violation of the due care that, according to an unwritten law, is common in society, and therefore unlawful. This is unlawful towards the users of Seroxat, who (without warning) were exposed to the risks, so also against [the plaintiff]. The statement of entitlement can therefore be assigned.”
Amsterdam psychiatrist, Dr. Bram Bakker, who was consulted as an expert during the trial, told the Dutch media, “there are still doctors who prescribe the drug to young people. If they think it is necessary, they will write it, that’s how it goes.” He added, “I’m afraid that under the influence of paroxetine an unknown number of murders have been committed.” Bakker refers, among other cases, to the ‘axe killings’, in which a former KLM stewardess, known only as Elzelien K (64), axed her husband and daughter to death at their home in Badhoevedorp. She then tried to kill herself by driving her car into a tree. She was, as expected, found guilty but in sentencing her to 7 years in prison the court considered her acts to have been brought on by the drug she was taking at the time, namely Seroxat.
Further, in 2014, asylum seeker, only known as ‘Alasam S’ (29), was sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of killing his girlfriend and a policeman in 2011. (2) What’s interesting about this case is that a year previously he was sentenced to 28 years in prison, upon appeal, however, the court heard how Alasam had developed psychosis the day before the killings as a result of the use of the antidepressant Seroxat.
One other related case pertaining to the Nederlands is that of the Sierre bus disaster, a case that I have covered previously on this blog. There were 52 on board, 28 people perished, 22 of them were children. The other 24 pupils, all aged between 10 and 12, were injured, including three who were hospitalized with severe brain and chest injuries.
A full investigation into the crash was carried out by Swiss Chief Prosecutor Olivier Elsig, the results of which were inconclusive. He ruled out the involvement of a third party, shortcomings in the road surface or the tunnel infrastructure. Excessive speed, alcohol or technical problems with the vehicle were also ruled out. He, at no point, could determine whether or not Geert Michiels carried out an act of homicide/suicide with the vehicle. In fact, the final report leaves more questions than it does answers.
The autopsy of the bus driver, Geert Michiels, revealed traces of Seroxat in his system. Michiels had been taking Seroxat for several years, he had been prescribed it as, at the time, he was going through a divorce. However, he was, at the time of the bus crash, in the process of tapering off. (3,4,5)
David Slew Goliath</h4
The verdict, in favor of Eggebeen, can be seen as a victory for David over Goliath – the ruling condemned GSK to compensate Eggebeen because of the psychological damage caused by Seroxat. The judgment was passed down by Mr. AE The-Kouwenhoven, Mr. P. Krepel and Mr. MWV van Duursen.
Because of the verdict, Eggebeen has now formed the Seroxat Claim Foundation. The lawyer of the foundation is Ron Lensen and because of the ‘time limitations’ ruling against GSK he is now looking for other victims of Seroxat (Link)
Of the verdict, Lensen said, “The verdict of the court opens the door to more damages in this affair. This goes further than just Mr. Eggebeen. This statement against GlaxoSmithKline is, in fact, usable for everyone in a similar position. The foundation can act as a representative for a group of injured parties. GSK is bound by this court judgment to all interested parties. “
In a statement, GlaxoSmithKline said, “GSK does not agree with the decision of the court in Utrecht and will carefully consider the next steps. For that reason, we can not now respond substantively to the verdict.”
– Bob Fiddaman