Almost like an episode of the TV show, Cold Case Files, the first Paxil birth defect trial was dominated by a story about what happened to the rat pups that died around 1979 and1980, involved in a study in which Paxil was being tested on pregnant female rats.
The animal studies giving Paxil to rats and rabbits were conducted by a Danish company called Ferrosan before the drug maker, that later became part of GlaxoSmithKline, purchased the drug.
The family's lead attorney in the case of Kilker v Glaxo, Sean Tracey from Houston, brought in the world-famous neuropsychopharmocology expert from Wales, Dr David Healy, to testify extensively about rat pup study 295.
In summary, Healy told the jury that all the rat pups born to mothers who received Paxil were dead four days after they were born, while eighty-eight percent of the pups not exposed to Paxil were still alive on day four.
In fact, of the 415 rat pups born to mothers who received Paxil, Healy testified that, "One in every ten or actually maybe more like possibly one in every eight or so were born dead."
As far as he could make make out, all the rats were not autopsied, Healy said, so the question was why the pups died.
"It's clearly the drug that has caused the death," he told the jury.
"One of the possible reasons for their death is they're born with birth defects that lead to them actually dying early in infant life," he testified. "A responsible approach to data like this is to investigate it further and find out just what the cause is."