A major lawsuit has been launched against the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline on behalf of a group of people who say they became chronically addicted to an antidepressant drug in the same class as Prozac. The case, which has been filed in California, is the first ever to claim damages for addiction against one of the drug companies that have made billions from SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) - the class of drug of which Prozac is the best known - and which were hailed as "wonderdrugs" when they first hit the market in the 1980s.
The drug is known as Seroxat in Britain and Paxil in the US. This drug has the generic name-Paroxetine. There are 35 people in the class action at the moment - from a website designer to a bank fraud investigator and a senior airforce officer - but many more are expected to join it. All were prescribed Paxil/Seroxat for mild depression or anxiety and none was told they might become hooked. When they tried to stop taking it, they suffered violent and disturbing symptoms, including jolting pains in the head, vertigo, loss of coordination, abdominal discomfort, flu symptoms, agitation and confusion.
The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, has deliberately failed to warn doctors and patients that Paxil/Seroxat can cause severe withdrawal reactions. The US lawyers allege that all the SSRI class of antidepressants have the potential to cause withdrawal reactions when people try to stop taking them, but that Paxil/Seroxat is the worst.