Glaxo faces £200m bill from latest lawsuits over Seroxat

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The Independent Online

Glaxosmithkline, the biggest drugmaker in the UK, is under legal assault in the US from parents of adolescents given its antidepressants, and is facing at least half a dozen lawsuits claiming the company withheld information that showed the products could make under-18s suicidal.

And in the latest, an aggressive law firm is aiming to recruit parents to a class action suit seeking damages of an estimated £200m.

GSK denies any wrongdoing, and the news will come as a blow to its investors. They had hoped the company would be able to draw a line under the controversy after last month settling a similar lawsuit with the New York state attorney-general, Eliot Spitzer.

The class action launched by the Minnesota-based solicitors Meshbesher & Spence, plus about half a dozen individual lawsuits, take Mr Spitzer's allegations and damages claims as their starting point. They claim GSK engaged in fraud by concealing the negative results of five trials of Paxil on children and misrepresenting the data it did reveal. Only one of the studies suggested the drug might be effective against depression, while others suggested it might increase suicidal thoughts.

Paxil, sold in the UK as Seroxat, has attracted controversy over its side effects. It was banned in the UK for under-18s last year and a regulatory panel is deciding next week whether the US should follow suit.