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Eli Lilly
Dec 31, 2004, 12:28p

UPDATE: According to a statement by El Lilly, the papers that BMJ received regarding Prozac's negative effects were given to federal regulators in the 80s and 90s. So unless further news surfaces, it appears that Eli Lilly is cleared from charge #1. Issue #2 below (buying a court verdict) still remains, which is despicable but not as damning as both issues together.

I just read an article about how Eli Lilly, the company that makes Prozac, did two extremely unethical things:

1) Eli Lilly hid evidence in 1994 that Prozac causes increased levels of agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, and aggressiveness. SSRIs like Prozac have recently come under scrutiny as potentially increasing the risks of suicide in young adults. It seems that Eli Lilly knew that Prozac could cause similar behavior in all patients, including adults. They knew this at least 10 years ago, and told no one. A report describing this was sent anonymously to the British Medical Journal recently.

2) Eli Lilly nearly got away with buying a court verdict in a related case in 1994, and would have if not for the vigilant judge on the case. Eli Lilly was sued by the family of a man named Wesbecker who shot and killed 8 co-workers and wounded 12 before killing himself in 1989. The man had started taking fluoxetine (Prozac) one month before the shooting.
The plaintiffs in the Wesbecker product liability sought to show that Eli Lilly withheld negative study data from the FDA and that fluoxetine tipped Wesbecker over into a homicidal rage. Lilly won a 9 to 3 jury verdict in late 1994 and subsequently claimed that it was "proven in a court of law... that Prozac is safe and effective."

The trial judge, Justice John Potter, suspecting that a secret deal had been struck, pursued Lilly and the plaintiffs, eventually forcing Lilly in 1997 to admit that it had made a secret settlement with the plaintiffs during the trial. Infuriated by Lilly's actions, Judge Potter ordered the finding changed from a verdict in Lilly's favour to one of "dismissed as settled with prejudice," saying, "Lilly sought to buy not just the verdict but the court's judgment as well."
(Full article from the British Medical Journal)

If you're taking any of Eli Lilly's other popular drugs, it may be worthwhile to (a) talk to your doctor about them and (b) research and consider alternatives that provide similar effect.
  • Alimta, a chemotherapy regimen to treat patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma who are not candidates for surgery
  • Symbyax, for bipolar depression
  • Cialis, for erectile dysfunction
  • Stratterra, a nonstimulant, noncontrolled medication for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children, adolescents, and adults
  • Forteo, for osteoporosis patients that stimulates new bone formation
  • Xigris, for adult severe-sepsis patients at a high risk of death
  • Evista, for the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis
  • Zyprexa, for schizophrenia and acute mania associated with bipolar disorder
  • Humalog, an insulin product
  • Gemzar, for pancreatic and non-small-cell lung cancer
  • Humatrope, therapy for growth hormone deficiency
  • Prozac
  • Humulin, human insulin
  • Ceclor, an oral antibiotic
  • Iletin, an insulin product, available since 1923
(from Eli Lilly's website)

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