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Medical Records Counter Story of Woman Who Filed Prozac Suit

August 27, 1991

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A woman who filed a $150 million lawsuit claiming the anti-depressant Prozac made her attempt suicide was depressed and tried to kill herself long before taking the drug, the manufacturer says.

Bonnie Leitsch disagrees with assessments in medical records of her psychological state before she attempted suicide in 1989.

Eli Lilly and Co., which makes Prozac, asserts that the drug is safe and has submitted medical records that company executives said show that Leitsch’s depression, not the drug, led her to attempt suicide.

Medical records the company submitted in court say Leitsch, 49, has had bouts of depression since 1976 and took an overdose of sleeping pills in 1960, The Courier-Journal reported Monday.

Leitsch is the national director of the Prozac Survivors Support Group and has appeared in courtrooms and on national television to speak out against Prozac.

She says she is a member of the Assemblies of God church, which forbids suicide. She contends she had never been depressed, had suicidal thoughts or taken psychiatric medication before March 1989, when her doctor prescribed Prozac as a ″pick-me-up.″

Leitsch said in an interview with the newspaper that she was anxious about having to care for her injured mother at the time.

She claims Prozac changed her personality and that she became hostile, argumentative and impulsive, insulted friends, lost her conscience and didn’t realize her behavior was unusual.

On June 17, 1989, after an argument with her husband, she swallowed two bottles of pills and was rushed to a hospital.

″I know without a shadow of a doubt it was the Prozac″ that caused the suicidal urge ″because it stopped the minute I came off of it,″ in early 1990, she said.

Lawyers for Eli Lilly said Leitsch’s medical records reveal that Leitsch has endured personal tragedies, including the suicide of her 21-year-old adopted daughter just seven months before her own suicide attempt.

Leitsch appeared depressed to Dr. Maria Boha of New Albany, Ind., during a 1976 hospital stay and in office visits in 1979 and 1983, the records indicate.

In 1982, Dr. Terry Davis of Louisville prescribed the antidepressant Asendin for Leitsch. In her file he wrote, ″Feeling befuddled. Is drowsy all the time. ... Crying uncontrollably. Getting frantic and panicky.″

According to records from Baptist Hospital East, where Leitsch was treated after her 1989 suicide attempt, psychiatrist Robert Stewart wrote that manic depression ″had probably been underlying the depression that brought about the suicide attempt.″

Leitsch denied the 1960 overdose was attempted suicide. She said she suspected her then-husband was having an affair and she was trying to scare him.

She disputed Stewart’s assessment that she had been depressed for some time before her 1989 suicide attempt. She also expressed surprise at records describing her as depressed in 1982, and she said she was unaware she had taken Asendin.

Later, after reviewing the records, Leitsch acknowledged that she had been briefly depressed in 1982 and attributed her condition to severe allergies that had not responded to treatment.

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