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Lawsuit Blames Zoloft for Teenager's Suicide

Oct 28, 2004 |,

A South Jordan couple on Tuesday accused pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. of negligence in their daughter's "tragic, maddening, wrongful death" for allegedly failing to warn doctors of a link between its antidepressant Zoloft and teenage suicide.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court, the parents of Shyra Marie Kallas say the 15-year-old shot herself in November 2002, less than a month after her family physician prescribed the antidepressant.

The girl originally went to see the doctor for warts but said, as part of her patient history, that she felt overwhelmed with school work, according to Ken and Angela Kallas' suit.

"Her doctor then did precisely what Pfizer's salesmen regularly encourage doctors to do, i.e., he (a) diagnosed 'depression' and (b) prescribed Zoloft," claims the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.

The legal action alleges Pfizer knew of an association between Zoloft and side effects that increase the risk for suicide. However, it claims, the company continued to overpromote the medication and misled the public about the risk, touting Zoloft as the "number one doctor-trusted antidepressant."

Pfizer representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday. In its 2004 third-quarter performance report released last week, the New York City-based company said, "Zoloft is not approved for pediatric depression. In fact, there have been no suicides in the Zoloft pediatric clinical program.

"Pfizer remains confident in the proven safety and efficacy of Zoloft to treat millions of patients with mood and anxiety disorders."

In an Oct. 15 advisory, the Food and Drug Administration said all antidepressants will now carry labels that include a boxed warning about the increased risk of suicide they pose to children and adolescents.

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