June 8, 2000 - Prozac Data Was Kept From Trial, Suit Says
Andy Vickery, famous for winning cases against makers of various antidepressants, and the surviving children of William Forsyth and his wife filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from the jury verdict of the Honolulu Federal District Court in favor of Eli Lilly, maker of Prozac. The family claims that the company ''committed a fraud on the court'' by not disclosing a new patent of the drug that admits that some users of Prozac could develop akathisia, a serious side effect described as inner restlessness that could lead to violent and suicidal behavior among a small percentage of users.
Vickery said that this potentially damaging information should have been disclosed by the company, and its omission had prejudiced the jury to rule in Lilly's favor. He added that ''Lilly wanted a verdict that it could herald in the marketplace as being the definitive vindication of their claims, and they were willing to get it by withholding important information from the judge and jury.''
Vickery believes that the jury was fundamentally misled by Lilly's defense that agitation results in a person exhibiting both inner and outer restlessness. Forsyth, argued the company, did not exhibit the outer restlessness since the psychiatric hospital staff did not see any, and therefore, was not agitated at the time of suicide-murder as a result of taking the drug.
The patent clearly states that inner restlessness alone is a sign of agitation, noted Vickery, and the jury should have been aware of this new research at trial. Lilly denied they knew about the patent at the time of the trial and said that Prozac was not responsible for the murder-suicide in this case.
The number of civil lawsuits against the Indianapolis drug company is likely to continue due to the growing criticism of Prozac and similar drugs by the medical profession. One of these critics is Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a Professor of Psychiatry at Cambridge University who believes that "the new patent can be compared to the tobacco papers. It's a pharmaceutical company document that acknowledges this dangerous side effect which has been downplayed by Eli Lilly and other pharmaceutical companies for a decade.''
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