5/1/2000 – PA Suit blames Prozac for suicide try

Suit blames Prozac for suicide try

By Jeff Swiatek

The Indianapolis Star

Last updated 11:58 PM, EST, Monday, May 01, 2000

A Pennsylvania woman and her husband have sued Eli Lilly and Co., charging
that Prozac caused the woman to attempt suicide in 1997.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in Pittsburgh, says Diane V.
Cassidy was prescribed Prozac by her family doctor in July of 1997 for weight
loss.

Three weeks later, Cassidy checked into a motel, slit her wrists and took an
overdose of a drug that damaged her brain, the lawsuit says.

Cassidy, 47, survived, but is brain-damaged and requires constant care, the
lawsuit says.

A co-plaintiff is Cassidy’s husband of 29 years, Melvin J. Cassidy. They live
in Monroeville, Pa.

Lilly spokesman Edward A. West said, “Prozac had nothing do with this woman’s
situation.” He added, “There is a real serious question about whether there
was a suicide attempt or not.”

The 23-page initial complaint asks for $4.84 million to cover medical
expenses, lost wages and life-care needs. Intangible damages also are sought.

The lawsuit accuses the Indianapolis drugmaker of negligence for not warning
doctors that Prozac can cause suicidal behavior in some patients.

Prozac, the nation’s top-selling antidepressant, is not federally approved as
a weight-loss drug, but the lawsuit says Lilly “has either actively or
tacitly encouraged doctors to prescribe Prozac for weight loss.”

The lawsuit joins a dwindling number of fewer than 10 product-liability
claims over Prozac. Five years ago, there were more than 150 claims. Most
have been dismissed, dropped or settled.

Handling the Pittsburgh lawsuit are Greensburg, Pa., attorney Lawrence D.
Kerr and Houston attorney Andy Vickery, who has three other Prozac lawsuits
pending against Lilly.

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