August 8, 2001 - Prozac Legal Battles Cost Lilly Millions; Generic Makers May Be Targets.
Barr Laboratories and other sellers of generic Prozac might now be exposed to potential litigation. Andy Vickery, a Houston trial lawyer who has litigated a number of lawsuits against Eli Lilly and other manufacturers of Prozac-like antidepressants alleging violent side effects, believes that the release of low-priced generic Prozac may bring a new wave of similar litigation against other makers of the drug.
"It'll be more widely used because of price considerations and . . . there will be more deaths," Vickery said. "Barr's going to capitalize . . . on Lilly's campaign to denigrate the detractors of Prozac like me, and market it willy-nilly. And God help them if they do."
More than 200 lawsuits claiming that Prozac caused its users to become violent and harm themselves or others have been filed against Lilly Co. Last year alone the company settled at least 40 of the lawsuits and paid out approximately $50 million in damages to victims and their families.
About 10 Prozac wrongful-death lawsuits remain against the company. Lilly has consistently resisted demands by plaintiffs to put a warning on Prozac informing patients that the drug might trigger violent behavior in some people. Thus, the medication is sold without this warning.
Similarly, Barr's chairman, Bruce Downey, said that the company does not intend to change the label to include any potential "violent behavior" warning to users of its generic product. "We believe the product is safe and effective. I am not going to be intimidated by the fact there might be product-liability cases."
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