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Lawsuit Alleges Anti-depressant Drug Causes Suicidal Behavior

August 9, 1990

CHICAGO (AP) _ A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday charges that the anti-depression drug Prozac may prompt suicidal or aggressive behavior and that the drug’s manufacturer has failed to warn doctors about that possibility.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by saleseman Ralph Langer of Lake County seeks more than $1 million in damages from Eli Lilly & Co. and its subsidiary, Dista Products Co., which manufacture and market Prozac.

An Eli Lilly spokeswoman refused to comment on the lawsuit, but defended the drug as safe.

Langer contends in the lawsuit that he began experiencing suicidal and self-destructive impulses after his therapist prescribed Prozac in September 1987 to treat his depression.

The suit says that at one point while on the drug, he intentionally drove his car at high speed into the rear of a truck. He suffered broken bones and bruises in the crash, the suit says.

In Indianapolis Tuesday, a similar suit was filed against Eli Lilly by Janet C. Sims, founder of a support group for former Prozac users.

Mrs. Sims took Prozac for depression from January 1988 until February 1989 and again in February 1990. Both times, she claims, she had suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide.

Last month, a New York woman filed a lawsuit against Eli Lilly leveling similar charges. In addition, the widows of three victims of a Kentucky man who murdered eight people before shooting himself are each suing Eli Lilly for $50 million, saying the aggression was linked to Prozac.

Langer’s attorney, Aron D. Robinson of Chicago, said his client had never had suicidal impulses before being prescibed Prozac. He said his law firm reviewed about 15-50 case studies of individuals who exhibited aggressive behavior after taking Prozac.

″In the cases we looked at, the behavior occurred within a very tight time frame,″ Robinson said. ″It began when the person first began taking the drug and ended when the person was taken off the drug.

″We believe there is a causal relationship that Eli Lilly knew or should have known about,″ said Robinson, who refused to say where in Lake County Langer lives.

Marie Abbott, a spokeswoman for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, said the drug was tested on more than 11,000 people before marketed, and prescribed to more than 2 million patients, without evidence that it was linked to suicidal impulses.

″All of the data we have does not show a cause-and-effect relationship between our product and suicidal thoughts and acts,″ she said. ″The safety and effectiveness of this product has been tested.″

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no evidence of the drug being linked to specific deaths, and still considers the drug safe, spokeswoman Eva Kemper said in a telephone interview.

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