$3.02M Verdict In Paxil case — (Albuquerque Journal News)

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Albuquerque Journal News

Scott Sandlin, Journal Staff writer

Wednesday 5th October, 2011

A Los Lunas jury has returned a verdict of more than $3 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the family of a woman who committed suicide by slashing herself with razor blades after taking the antidepressant Paxil.

Susan Antoinette Silva, 30, of Albuquerque, killed herself in 2006 after a period of bizarre behavior when she had begun using the drug and later a generic version of it.

She was prescribed Paxil by Dr. Isabel Lopez-Colberg, who at the time was a Lovelace Health Systems doctor, in May 2004 for symptoms diagnosed as anxiety.

Attorney Jason Bowles, who represented Silva’s estate, said the physician had prescribed “a year’s worth of pills, (and) never referred her” to a specialist, and failed to monitor her.

“This girl carved deep gashes in her leg,” Bowles said. “She was calling in sick to work once every week. Even (the defense) expert said she was going psychotic for several months prior to her death.”

Lovelace spokeswoman Laurie Volkin said in a statement that “an appeal is under consideration.”

Silva was employed as a mental health technician at the University of New Mexico Hospital.

The lawsuit said she began showing signs of restless leg syndrome, and switched to the generic version of the drug. She reported that the medication made her feel uncomfortable, and that if she forgot to take it for even a day or two, she would get quite ill, the lawsuit said.

More than once, she said the medication made her feel “weird” and her family and others noted erratic behavior.

On April 11, 2006, she had a dream that she had to stab something, and she appeared distraught, incoherent and bizarre.

She decided to stay at her parents’ home, but left inexplicably at 11 p.m. saying she had to take care of her cat. On April 13, she engaged in “a self-mutilation suicide” using razor blades.

Jurors awarded $3.02 million to Silva’s estate, $100,000 each to her parents, and $20,000 each to her siblings.

The jury assigned 70 percent of the fault to the doctor and Lovelace, 25 percent to Susan Silva and 5 percent to unspecified others.

The lawsuit also targeted GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Paxil, but District Judge William Sanchez dismissed the drug company before trial began last week in Los Lunas.

Bowles is appealing that ruling.

The lawsuit alleged GlaxoSmithKline withheld safety information gathered in clinical trials about Paxil before Silva’s death.
­ This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal