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Texas Jury Rules in Favor of Upjohn in Halcion Suit

March 13, 1993

DETROIT (AP) _ A Texas jury on Friday ruled in favor of Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Co. in a lawsuit alleging its sleep aid, Halcion, prompted the stabbing of a man in San Antonio.

Jurors said the company could not be held responsible for the 1987 stabbing of William Harley because there was no proof the assailant actually took the drug. Harley’s throat was slashed by a mental patient while he sat in a San Antonio hospital emergency room.

He survived and filed suit against the drug maker with his wife, Sandra, in 1989.

Halcion has been linked by critics to serious side effects, including short-term memory loss, violent behavior and hallucinations. But the Food and Drug Administration concluded in May 1992 it was safe and effective when used as directed. Upjohn has faces several lawsuits around the country over the drug, with differing verdicts.

The Harleys said Joe Castleman Jr. was under the influence of the drug when he attacked Harley on Dec. 1, 1987.

But the San Antonio jury found there was no proof Castleman, a paranoid schizophrenic, ever actually took the drug. Castleman died in 1989 of heart trouble and complications from diabetes while incarcerated at a state mental hospital for the stabbing, according to the Harleys’ attorney.

″Mr. Harley was the victim of an unprovoked attack, so naturally we sympathize with him and his family,″ Upjohn’s chairman, Dr. Theodore Cooper, said in a statement Friday. ″But we congratulate the jury for looking at the facts of the case, rather than awarding a verdict based on sympathy.″

The Harleys’ attorney, Thad Harkins of San Antonio, said the jury never touched on the issue of Halcion’s safety.

Harley was waiting for an employee to get treatment at an emergency clinic when Castleman walked in, signed the register, and then attacked him, Harkins said.

″He’s still reliving it over and over again,″ Harkins said of Harley, who lost six to seven pints of blood when his jugular vein was severed.

Mrs. Harley, reached at the couple’s San Antonio home, referred questions to Harkins.

A decision on whether to appeal has not been made, the attorney said.

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