Letters: Paxil users pay a high price for peace

Paxil users pay a high price for peace

“Is it true that Paxil is a dangerous and addictive drug? My doctor put me on it, and within hours, I was feeling weird. I tossed the rest in the trash.”
-T.A.D., Mississippi

The drug industry is very clever in naming its nasty little pills: Librium to liberate, Stellazine for a stellar experience, Valium is valiant, and Paxil (PAX) stands for peace. But the effects of these drugs aren’t always as idyllic as their names might imply.

Paxil is an antidepressant that is also used to treat panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It is known to generate severe side effects. In addition to causing tremors, nervousness, dizziness, nausea, and genital disorders, Paxil has been shown to spark violent reactions in a small group of individuals. This past June, a jury of the U.S. District Court ordered manufacturer GlaxoSmith Kline PLC to pay $8 million in damages to the family of one Paxil patient. The patient, 60-year-old Donald Schnell of Gillette, Wyoming, fatally shot his wife, daughter, grand- daughter, and himself after taking the drug. The family’s lawyer argued that the company had known since 1990 that Paxil could cause violent reactions and had failed to provide adequate label warnings. The jury ruled that the drugmaker was 80 percent to blame for the Schnell tragedy.

It has also become obvious that Paxil is capable of producing severe withdrawal symptoms in patients who decide to cease treatment. Withdrawal was so severe that it prompted several former Paxil users to file suit against GlaxoSmithKline in a Los Angeles court. “Thirty-five people from around the country say they suffered symptoms ranging from electric-like shocks to suicidal thoughts after discontinuing use of the drug,” the Associated Press reported in August.

I started warning patients five years ago this drug creates serious addiction. Now, finally, the truth about Paxil is surfacing in the press.

“Suit Filed Against Antidepressant Paxil,” Associated Press, 8/24/01