Paxil Unafraid to Demonstrate Bling in ’98 Memo

You may recall Paxil as the inspiration for several Law & Order episodes. In 2004, NY Attorney General began proceedings against Paxil makers GlaxoSmithKline after the company suppressed five internal studies between 1998 and 2002 revealing links between the drug and incidences of suicide among its users, especially children and young adults.

Why would a drug company hush up that it killed it’s pill poppers? Because of the money bomb, obviously.

According to our tipster, this memo “proves GSK knew that providing adequate safety warnings in Paxil’s prescribing language would cause doctors to severely curtail or not prescribe the drug. [This] company memo came about at a time when GSK was readying to unleash a HUGE marketing campaign to push the drug.”

Unforunately, those billions couldn’t afford corporate communications anything better than Microsoft ClipArt.

It’s certainly no smoking gun but we found it amusing. “Why is stopping Paxil-smithing bad? Because it makes us a lot of money. See fig. A: a big bag of money.” The item’s timing is notable, although not proof of anything in and of itself. We expect to see it featured prominently in Michael Moore’s forthcoming big pharma shock-doc, “Sicko.”

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  1. Fenni Fentu says:

    This document appears to have been provided as part of a document production by GSK. It was stamped with the statement, “Confidential Pursuant to Protective Order.” Generally, the effect of protective orders continue even after litigation ends, and violation can include sanctions. Your tipster could have some ‘splaining to do.

    Also, I’m not sure I agree with the comment that this memo (which actually looks to be part of a PowerPoint presentation) “proves GSK knew that providing adequate safety warnings in Paxil’s prescribing language would cause doctors to severely curtail or not prescribe the drug.” It looks like it shows that GSK was evaluating options and that discontinuation would be a very costly one. I don’t think it has anything to do with “adequate safety warnings.” While one might be able to infer bad intent from a company wanting to make a profit, I think that a company stating that discontinuation of a popular product would cause huge losses is just a statement of the obvious.

  2. Ben Popken says:

    It’s certainly no smoking gun. I found it funny and bizzare. Why is stopping Paxil bad? Because we make a lot of money on it. See? Look at the money bomb. Thank you for the fine presentation, VP of Obviousness. The item’s timing is notable, though not proof of anything in and of itself. I expect to see it featured in Micahel Moore’s upcoming shock-doc, “Big Pharma.”

  3. Ben Popken says:

    ^ Moore’s upcoming shock-doc, “Sicko.”

  4. Ben Popken says:

    Hm, I shoulda said the above in the post. In fact, I’m going to.

  5. Multisyllaballistic says:

    Those crazy AdBuster Canucks are at it again.