Prozac: A class action lawsuit is filed in Montreal

MONTREAL, Jan. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - A class action lawsuit was filed before
the Superior Court in Montreal this morning. Giant drug maker Eli Lilly is
alleged to have withheld vital information on the safety of Prozac, its
flagship drug for years. Yesterday, the Indianapolis based drug maker
completely vindicated the British Medical Journal, which it had charged
earlier this week with misleading its readers, when it posted a document on
its website called Annotations. Eli Lilly had been invited on numerous
occasions to answer whether a document called Summary of a preliminary
analysis of clusters of adverse events based on pooling data from multiple
studies was authentic and whether it had been released to health authorities
around the world.

Eli Lilly confirmed the authenticity of the document and implicitly
admitted that it had never been released to health authorities, including the
FDA, or anyone else. The document consisted of data stemming from numerous
studies conducted by Eli Lilly and that showed that Prozac caused activation
in 38% of its users compared with 19% with placebo and 4% for Tricyclic, a
then well known drug in the treatment of depression.
When Eli Lilly representatives attended the FDA hearings on the safety of
Prozac in 1991, they had known the existence of the study for years but failed
to disclose it to the FDA, in the word of the lead plaintiff's attorney, "lest
it should warrant a much stringent warning on the label of the drug with
regard to its safety, thereby seriously hampering Eli Lilly's efforts to
market its new drug as effective and safe." In the words of Serge Petit of the
law firm Petit Desjardins based in Montreal, Canada, that represents the lead
plaintiff "such a likelihood was looming large since Eli Lilly knew that if
doctors had been made aware that Prozac, back then being introduced as the new
kid on the block, caused activation in 38% of its users compared with 19% of
patients taking a placebo and 4% of those taking a drug then well known to
doctors, Tricyclic, they would certainly have hesitated before prescribing
Prozac. It was nearly a ten folds increase in activation compared with the
other drug they could prescribe."
The lead plaintiff contends that the reason why Eli Lilly failed to
disclose the document to Health authorities was that it would have placed
another study, that consisted of a pooling of what is called spontaneous
reports and showed alarming increases in suicide attempts and other violent
acts in patient using Prozac as compared with four other drugs, in a totally
new perspective and prevent it from being dismissed by FDA and Eli Lilly as
inconclusive. To Serge Petit "had the study on activation and the one on
spontaneous reports been put side by side before the FDA, Eli Lilly would have
faced an uphill battle as to the safety of its drug".
The class action contends that Eli Lilly misled health authorities around
the world and therefore the millions of users of its drug Prozac around the
world as to the safety of its drug by failing to disclose the said document.
To Serge Petit, "the passage of time cannot condone Eli Lilly's behavior and
it must be held accountable for circumventing the safeguards that have been
put in place to protect the public health." The lead plaintiff is seeking
$10,000 in punitive damages and $5 000 for herself and each member of the
group from Eli Lilly for misrepresenting the safety of its drug.

January 15, 2005 in Prozac | Permalink | Comments (4)