IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
TINA KATHERINE BEER
Brought under the Class Proceedings Act
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
1. The Plaintiff, TINA KATHERINE BEER, is a Businesswoman, whose address is 4922
Martin Court, in the Municipality of West Vancouver, in the Province of British
2. The Defendant, GLAXOSMITHKLINE INC., (hereinafter referred to as GSK)
is an Extra-Provincial company duly registered in the Province of British Columbia
under number A0056297 and has its head office in British Columbia at c/o Blake
Cassels & Graydon LLP, 2600 Three Bentall Centre, P.O. Box 49314, 595 Burrard
Street, Vancouver, British Columbia.
3. GLAXOSMITHKLINE is a multi-national corporation created in December of 2000
as a result of the merger of Glaxo Wellcome and Smithkline Beecham. GSK and its
parent organization research, design, manufacture and market pharmaceutical products.
4. One of the drugs manufactured by GSK is called Paxil (genetically known as
5. Paxil is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
or SSRIs and is widely prescribed by physicians to treat depression,
anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress and generalized
6. The Plaintiff was originally prescribed Paxil in the month of April 2000 by
her family physician. In the month of August 2000, the Plaintiff attempted to
discontinue use of Paxil with her doctors approval. Upon initial termination
of the Paxil she experienced severe flu like symptoms including stomach pain,
severe headaches, body aches, chills, fever and bloated stomach. In addition to
which she experienced severe dizzy spells, was photo sensitive and experienced
7. Neither she, nor her doctor realized that she was suffering from Paxil withdrawal
and was inappropriately treated for a non-existent kidney infection with antibiotics.
She was then wrongly diagnosed to have either an appendix or gallbladder problem.
Eventually she was advised to go back on the Paxil, which she did and she immediately
experienced the cessation of the above-described symptoms. In the month of February
2001 the Plaintiff again stopped taking Paxil and immediately experienced the
return of the above-described symptoms and was forced to go back on the Paxil.
8. In the month of July 2001 the Plaintiff tapered off her use of Paxil in an
attempt to wean herself of the drug over a two month period. The Plaintiff experienced
hysteria, suicidal thoughts, shaking, electric zaps throughout her body, insomnia,
nausea, headaches, high fever, chills, diarrhea, memory loss and lack of concentration.
NATURE OF THE CASE
9. This is a class action on behalf of all individuals in the Province of British
Columbia who were prescribed and took the drug Paxil which at all material times
hereto has been and continues to be manufactured, marketed and distributed by
GSK, and who experienced dependency/withdrawal reactions.
10. Thousands of Paxil users suffered dependency/withdrawal reactions. The pain
and suffering experienced by each of these individuals is a direct result of the
Defendants failure to warn users of Paxils addictive nature, the drugs
inducement of physical and psychological dependency, and its infliction of dependency/withdrawal
reactions when the patients Paxil dosage is reduced or terminated. Paxil
has caused some people who take it to experience serious and unexpected withdrawal
reactions. These reactions are unexpected to the victims and even
their physicians because the manufacturer has deliberately failed to properly
warn of this. Both physician and patient unwittingly use Paxil without knowing
the drugs addictive traits. The Plaintiff and members of the Plaintiff Class
were never informed before starting Paxil that it was addictive, that it induced
dependency, or that it caused withdrawal reaction when dosage was reduced or terminated.
11. Paxil creates both physical and psychological dependency and, because GSK
has suppressed the information about the severe withdrawal reaction caused by
its drug, many patients and their physicians are fooled into thinking that the
withdrawal reactions the patients are experiencing are caused by another condition
(such as kidney infection), thus promoting further incorrect and unnecessary medical
treatment, including increased dosages of Paxil. Some of the Class Members remain
on Paxil today because they have become dependent and feel they cannot get off
the drug. GSK has known for years the distinct characteristics of Paxil which
make it prone to cause dependency/withdrawal reactions after its use is discontinued.
CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS
12. The Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of herself and all others similarly
affected, as members of the proposed Class, defined as follows:
All British Columbia residents who have suffered, are suffering, or will
suffer from dependency/withdrawal reactions following reduction or termination
of their Paxil dosage.
13. The members of the proposed Class number in at least thousands. As a result,
the Class is so numerous that joinder in a single action is impracticable. However,
each Class member should be readily identifiable from information and records
available to GSK.
14. Individual members of the proposed Class do not have a significant interest
in individually controlling the prosecution of separate actions, and individualized
litigation would also present the potential for varying, inconsistent, or contrary
judgements and would magnify the delay and expense to all parties to the court
system resulting from multiple trials of the same factual issues. The cost to
pursue individual action would effectively deny individuals access to the court.
15. There is a well defined list of common questions of law and fact. These common
legal and factual questions do not vary from one Class member to another, and
may be determined without reference to the individual circumstances of Class members.
These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Whether GSK properly and adequately warned the
Plaintiff and proposed Class members that Paxil can cause dependency/withdrawal
2. Whether GSK properly and adequately warned physicians in British Columbia that
Paxil can cause dependency/withdrawal reactions.
3. Whether GSK over-promoted its drug Paxil to such an extent that any warnings
it may have given regarding dependency/withdrawal reactions were nullified.
4. Whether GSK wrongly asserted in its advertising material that Paxil was non-addictive
and not habit forming.
5. Whether the drug Paxil is addictive and does cause dependency/withdrawal reactions.
16. The claim of the Plaintiff is typical of the Class. The Plaintiff and the
proposed Class members were uninformed of the hazards in reducing or terminating
their Paxil dosage. The Plaintiff says, and the fact is, that she and the members
of the proposed Class experienced one or more of the following dependency/withdrawal
reactions upon cessation or reduction of their Paxil dosage:
(a) Jolting electric zaps. (b) Dizziness.
(f) Gait disturbances.
(h) Extreme nausea.
(j) High fever.
(v) Memory and concentration difficulties.
(bb) Ataxia, and/or myalgia.
17. Each patient victim and potential Class member on the cessation of Paxil became
very ill without realizing the cause of their distress. Severe physical and psychological
anguish developed and persisted. Typically, the patient went to see his/her physician,
who, ignorant of Paxils withdrawal inducing traits, started down an erroneous
path to diagnose the problem. This included suggesting unnecessary tests and diagnoses,
including relapse, which in the physicians mind warranted an
increase of Paxil dosage thus compounding the problem. The physician, in
many instances, was the last person to acknowledge that Paxil withdrawal was in
fact the culprit behind the patients suffering. As a result, the patients
pain and suffering and resulting disabilities were prolonged, often lasting weeks,
even months. Some patients, after a lengthy regime of gradually tapering down
their Paxil dosage, were successful in completely weaning themselves off the drug.
Some patients remain on Paxil today because they are hooked on the
drug and feel they cannot get off of it. The only difference among Class members
is the amount of damage sustained, which can be readily determined, and does not
bar class certification.
18. The Plaintiff will fully and adequately protect the interests of the proposed
Class, and have retained class counsel who are experienced and qualified in prosecuting
class action complex litigation. Neither the Plaintiff nor her solicitors have
interests which are contrary to, or conflicting with those of the proposed Class.
19. GSK knowingly and deliberately promoted the use of Paxil as a non-addictive
drug to physicians and the general public when it knew, or ought to have known,
that patients would become addicted to the use of Paxil and that the cessation
of Paxil use would cause the patient to experience severe dependency/withdrawal
reactions as described above.
20. In reliance on the misrepresentation of GSK the Plaintiff and Class Members
were induced to purchase and use Paxil. If the Plaintiff and Class Members had
known the true facts and the facts concealed by GSK, the Plaintiff and Class Members
would not have used Paxil. The reliance of the Plaintiff and Class Members upon
GSKs misrepresentations was justified because such misrepresentations were
made and conducted by GSK who was in a position in which it knew or ought to have
known the true facts.
21. The Plaintiff and Class Members say that GSKs misrepresentations as
to the addictive nature of Paxil are unlawful and deceptive trade practices. Specifically,
the Plaintiff and the Class Members say that GSK is in violation of Section 52
(1) of the Competition Act and that thereby the Plaintiff and the Class Members
are entitled to damages.
22. GSKs failure to provide physicians and the public with sufficient and
adequate notice of the addictive nature of Paxil was negligent.
23. GSK actively deceived the Plaintiff and potential Class members by representations
in written labeling, oral communications and television advertising suggesting
that Paxil is not addictive, that it does not cause physical or psychological
dependency, and that it would not cause dependency/withdrawal reactions if dosage
was reduced or terminated.
24. GSK used false and misleading techniques to hide the linkage between dependency/withdrawal
reactions on one hand, and Paxil on the other. After censoring the word withdrawal
from company files and instructing its agents similarly, GSK began to dilute the
medical vocabulary by using misleading medical terms to substitute for withdrawal
such as discontinuation syndrome.
25. GSK over promoted Paxil in order to increase its sales at the expense of revealing
the truth about the addictive/dependency nature of Paxil.
26. GSK deliberately and falsely conveyed to all healthcare providers in British
Columbia that Paxil side effects were only mild when in fact GSK knew
many of the drugs withdrawal side effects were severe.
27. As a result of GSKs acts and omissions it has deceived the medical community,
including the Plaintiffs physicians, into believing Paxil does not have
addictive qualities and does not cause dependency/withdrawal reactions which GSK
knows it in fact does.
28. The said representations were made by GSK when it knew those representations
to be false, or in the alternative, willfully and wantonly and recklessly disregarded
whether the representations were true. These representations were made by GSK
with the intention of deceiving the public in general and the medical community
and to induce the medical community to recommend and prescribe Paxil and to induce
the public to take it.
29. GSK impliedly warranted that Paxil was of merchantable quality and safe and
fit for its intended and foreseeable uses. GSK breached this implied warranty
because Paxil was not, and is not, of merchantable quality or safe for its intended
30. The Plaintiff and Class Members plead and rely upon the Sale of Goods Act
R.S.B.C. 1996, s. 18.
31. At the time the aforesaid representations were made by GSK and at the time
the Plaintiff ingested Paxil, both the Plaintiff and her prescribing physician
were unaware of the falsity of the said representations and reasonably relied
upon the GSKs assertions, promulgated through its aggressive sales force
to the medical community that the drug was safe. In reliance upon the said representations
the Plaintiffs physician did prescribe Paxil and the Plaintiff was induced
to, and did take Paxil. Had the Plaintiff known of the actual dangers of Paxil
through her physician or otherwise, she would not have ingested Paxil.
32. GSKs motive of deliberately failing to advise physicians and the public
of the adverse effects that can lead to withdrawal problems was for financial
gain and its fear that, if properly labeled, Paxil would lose its share of the
SSRI market through the efforts of competing manufacturers who would adversely
compare GSKs drug to their own. GSKs goal, at the expense of those
who took its drug Paxil, was for Paxil to become the dominant SSRI on the market.
33. As a result of the conduct described above GSK has been unjustly enriched
by receipt of millions of dollars from the sale and prescription of Paxil, sold
in large part as a result of the acts and omissions described above.
34. At all material times the conduct of GSK as set forth above, was malicious,
deliberate and oppressive towards the Plaintiff and the public generally, and
the said GSK, conducted itself in a willful, wanton and reckless manner as set
forth above. Despite its specific knowledge as set forth above, GSK deliberately
recommended, manufactured, produced, marketed, sold, distributed, merchandized,
packaged, promoted and advertised the dangerous and defective drug Paxil. As a
result of GSKs deceitful conduct and representations and due to Paxils
addictive quality, inducement of physical and psychological dependency, and inducement
of dependency/withdrawal reactions, the Plaintiff and Class members unexpectedly
suffered prolonged physical and mental harm. As a further consequence of
taking the drug Paxil the Plaintiff and the Class Members have and will continue
to incur medical expenses, care expenses, losses of capital assets, loss of income,
loss of ability to perform housework, loss of opportunity, pain and suffering
and inability to enjoy their lives.
WHEREFORE THE PLAINTIFF AND THE MEMBERS OF THE PROPOSED CLASS CLAIM AGAINST THE
(a) General damages;
(b) Punitive damages;
(c) Exemplary damages;
(d) Special damages;
(e) Court Order Interest pursuant to the Court Order Interest Act;
(g) Such further other relief as to this Honourable Court may seem meet;
PLACE OF TRIAL: VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA.
DATED at the City of North Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, this day of
Solicitor for the Plaintiff
THIS STATEMENT OF CLAIM is filed by KENNETH J. BAXTER ESQ., Poyner Baxter, Barristers
& Solicitors, whose address for delivery is Lonsdale Quay Plaza, #408 145
Chadwick Court, North Vancouver, B.C. V7M 3K1 (Telephone: 604-988-6321 Fax: 604-988-3632)