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Antidepressant Drug To Blame For Suicide?

— March 23, 2017

Reed Smith law partner Stewart Dolin threw himself in front of a Chicago Transit Authority train in 2010 and widow is arguing Paxil may have been the cause.

Reed Smith law partner Stewart Dolin threw himself in front of a Chicago Transit Authority train in 2010, committing suicide.  The attorney may have had a bad reaction to the generic version of Paxil, a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor antidepressant, when he did so.  Or, he may have simply had poorly controlled anxiety and depression.  Dolin had a history of both of these disorders, which may have very likely led him to want to end his life that day.  These conditions are fairly common among attorneys, who see their fair share of trauma and are prone to substantial detrimental emotional effects.  The American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs notes that 28 percent of lawyers currently practicing have problems with depression.  However, David Healy, a Wales psychiatry professor, states that drug Paxil has been found to increase adult suicidal behavior.

Paxil Antidepressant
Image Courtesy of Drug Dangers

In any case, a wrongful death suit was brought about by Dolin’s widow, Wendy, a licensed therapist, and litigation is ongoing.  The lawsuit alleges that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a British pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, London, named as the defendant, covered up suicidal side effects of the drug.  Wendy is seeking $12 million in damages for her husband’s death.  

David Healy was put on the stand last week during trial by the plaintiff to testify about the relationship between taking Paxil and adult suicidal behavior.  Healy testified that GSK, in clinical trials, inflated the number of suicides and suicide attempts by patients who received a placebo.  The Federal Drug Association in 2006 found that paroxetine, a Paxil ingredient, increased suicide risks among teenagers taking the product.  The effects are likely to be present in adults as well.

Wendy maintains that the generic version of Paxil her husband was prescribed made his anxiety and depression symptoms worse than ever before.  State states her husband had difficulty sleeping and “extreme thoughts” just prior to the incident, which left her worried that something bad was going to happen.  However, attorneys representing the defendant GSK claim that Dolin had been expressing concerns related to his work around that time to his therapist.  

Reed Smith Law Offices
Image Courtesy of Law Crossing

Dolin was offered a position as the head of Reed Smith’s U.S. corporate and securities group following the company’s merge with Chicago-based Sachnoff & Weaver.  The additional responsibilities were no doubt stressful, and Dolin had indicated in several sessions he felt inadequate to his new partners because, unlike them, he hadn’t received a degree from Harvard or Yale Law School.  To top it off, in 2009, Reed Smith reduced Dolin’s salary and two months prior to his suicide, the firm named Paul Jaskot as co-chair of its corporate practice.

Following Dolin’s demise, Reed Smith, a global law firm, with more than 1,700 lawyers in 26 offices throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, who is not a party in the lawsuit, established an award named in the attorney’s honor for Reed Smith lawyers who show excellent client service, a small token of appreciation for the late Dolin’s efforts.


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