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Whales cannot be swallowed

The medical profession has long known that it is cheaper to kill than to maim.

As a subset of those killed, it is cheaper to kill a young person or an old person than an adult with dependents.

This is the context in which to understand the behaviour of GlaxoSmithKline (“GSK”), the manufacturers of Seroxat

GSK clinical trials showed its drug Seroxat induced suicidal thoughts and behaviour in young people taking it. GSK had hoped to extend the market for its drug to young people. The drug was not approved for use other than by adults, but General Practitioners were not prohibited from prescribing the drug for young people and it was widely available on the NHS and generally. It is estimated that in 1999 32,000 children were using the drug.

To the credit of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Authority, it launched a four year investigation of GSK, examining a million documents before reluctantly deciding not to commence a criminal prosecution of GSK.

What of a civil action? The standard of proof in a civil action is on the balance of probabilities, not beyond a reasonable doubt. Of course loss would have to be proved. The actual loss seems to have been death (disregarding failed suicide attempts). Personal injury claims die with the victim; only the fatal injury claim survives. As seen HERE, in that eventuality rich young married stockbrokers are the major problem, not depressed children.

And what of the proof? It would be necessary to prove that Seroxat was the cause of the suicide. That would not be assumed; it would have to be actually proved. In addition the fact that GSK knew and suppressed the data showing the adverse side effects would have to be proved. They have not admitted that.

The burden of proof is probably beyond the resources of ordinary persons.