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Files indicate settlement in Paxil lawsuit

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against a pharmaceutical company by a Watertown woman who linked her prescribed use of Paxil to the death of her infant son, according to court files.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against a pharmaceutical company by a Watertown woman who linked her prescribed use of Paxil to the death of her infant son, according to court files.

Jennifer Berg of Watertown sued SmithKline Beecham, doing business as GlaxoSmithKline, in October 2007. The complaint said Nathan Berg died in 2004 because of a heart disorder caused by her use of the antidepressant Paxil while she was pregnant.

The federal court lawsuit sought unspecified damages from the company for failing to warn of a link between the two. Letters from her attorneys to the presiding judge indicate there's a settlement. No settlement documents have been filed in court.

Lawyers at a California firm handling the case for Berg did not immediately return a phone call Monday for comment.

GlaxoSmithKline said last week that it expects to take a $2.36 billion charge against second-quarter earnings for settlements, agreements to settle and other provisions for long-standing legal cases over Paxil, the diabetes drug Avandia and other issues. The company said settlement details would be confidential.

According to the lawsuit, Nathan Berg was born Aug. 20, 2004 at Watertown and was immediately transferred to a Minneapolis hospital where he died 58 days later of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), a disorder which prevents proper oxygenation of the blood.

"At the time Paxil was prescribed to Ms. Berg, GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) knew or should have known through pre-market studies and post-market studies and reports that Paxil was associated with an increased risk of PPHN in babies whose mothers ingested Paxil during pregnancy," according to the lawsuit.

Last October, a jury in Philadelphia ordered GlaxoSmithKline to pay $2.5 million to a woman whose son was born in October 2005 with heart defects after she took Paxil while pregnant. The Food and Drug Administration in September 2005 began warning that the drug might be associated with birth defects.