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Jury Clears Oraflex Maker

September 10, 1985

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ A federal jury has found that the manufacturer of the drug Oraflex was not responsible for the death of a Virginia man who had been taking the controversial drug before his death in 1982.

The family of Lester E. Wolfrey, alleging that his death was caused by the drug prescribed for arthritis sufferers, sued Eli Lilly & Co. for $175 million in U.S. District Court.

During the four-day court battle, attorneys for the pharmaceutical manufacturer argued that Wolfrey’s death was not caused by Oraflex but by excessive alchohol and drug consumption.

After the decision was handed down by the jury Monday, Eli Lilly spokesman Edward West said it ″confirms our position that Oraflex did not cause Mr. Wolfrey’s death.″

Wolfrey died of severe liver damage at the University of Virginia Hospital three weeks after he stopped using Oraflex. He was 51 at the time.

The drug was sold in the overseas market before it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was sold for two months before it was taken off the market.

Last month, Lilly was fined $25,000 after it pleaded guilty to not notifying the government of deaths and injuries among overseas users of Oraflex while the company was seeking permisson to sell it in the United States.

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