Parents allege Prozac caused son to commit suicide — (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

SSRI Ed note: Teen, 17, takes Prozac, emails friend describing symptoms of akathisia, commits suicide. Parents sue Eli Lilly. Case is settled.

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Honalulu Star-Bulletin

Thursday, January 6, 2000

They file wrongful death suit against the drug manufacturer.

The antidepressant Prozac is being blamed for another death in Hawaii.

The parents of Hugh Blowers filed a wrongful death suit in U.S. District Court today against Eli Lilly & Company, manufacturers of the drug. The company launched Prozac into the United States in 1988 after the Federal and Drug Administration in 1987 approved it for the treatment of depression.

According to the suit, Blowers committed suicide and died June 3 in Pearl City after taking only seven Prozac tablets.

The suit accuses Lilly of over-promoting the drug and failing to adequately warn doctors and patients that it could cause suicidal and violent tendencies, despite articles published by two highly respected Harvard psychiatrists and testimony from an expert witness hired by Lilly.

Blowers suffered from clinical depression and was at risk for and frequently indicated suicidal thoughts, the suit said.  But according to Blowers’ writings, artwork and his psychiatrist, his will to live was strong and he was willing to seek help and was undergoing treatment.

Had his doctor been warned of the risks or that an expert hired by Lilly had testified just months earlier in U.S. District Court that Prozac was a “substantial factor” in the murder-suicide of a Maui couple in 1993, Blowers’ life would have been saved, the suit said.

A federal jury in April found Lilly not guilty in the death of William Forsyth Sr., who killed himself after stabbing his wife — the first wrongful death case attributed to Prozac tried here.

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Excerpt from Let Then Eat Prozac

By Dr David Healy

Vickery brought the R-fluoxetine patent into play in three outstanding cases. One involved Hugh Blowers, a 17-year-old Hawaiian who had hanged himself after a week on Prozac. Blowers had described symptoms of akathisia in an e-mail to a friend just before he killed himself, and his friends described a marked change in character.  On his bedroom wall was a poster for Prozac and what it can do for you by normalizing your serotonin system—part of the reason Blowers pushed for a change of antidepressant.  This case would take the doctor, McNeil or Neal, out of the equation.  But then Vickery was asked to Indianapolis, where he settled the Blowers case.


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Prozac maker settles Pearl City suicide suit — (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly and Co. has settled a wrongful-death case involving a Pearl City teen who killed himself after taking Prozac.

The parents of Hugh B. Blowers sued Lilly, which makes the drug, 10 months ago in U.S. District Court in Hawaii. Blowers hanged himself in his bedroom about a week after he started taking the drug to treat depression.

They accused the Indianapolis-based company of negligence and misrepresentation for not warning that Prozac can cause suicidal feelings.

Lilly filed for dismissal on Oct. 10, and the case has been terminated, a court clerk told the Indianapolis Star.

Lilly settled the case for less than it would have cost to try the case, spokesman Edward A. West said.