Eli Lilly & Co. documents linking the antidepressant Prozac to violence have been turned over to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the British Medical Journal, the publication says in its Jan. 1 issue.
The documents “appear to suggest a link” between Lilly’s Prozac and suicide attempts and violence, the journal said. The papers “went missing” during a product liability lawsuit 10 years ago and were recently sent to the medical journal by an anonymous source, according to the journal’s account.
A jury in 1994 found in favor of Lilly in the lawsuit, brought on behalf of victims of a 1989 workplace shooting. Joseph Wesbecker, who had a long history of depression, killed eight people and himself at a Louisville printing plant in 1989, a month after being put on Prozac.
Lilly’s offices were closed this week because of the holiday and Lilly spokesman Phil Belt didn’t return a call to his cell phone.
Prozac has helped to “significantly improve millions of lives,” the article in BMJ cited Lilly as saying. “It is one of the most studied drugs in the history of medicine, and has been prescribed for more than 50 million people worldwide. The safety and efficiency of Prozac is well studied, well documented, and well established.”
The FDA recently issued a warning that antidepressants can cause stimulatory side effects such as agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, and aggressiveness.
Prozac was Lilly’s best-selling drug and the world’s top- selling antidepressant until it lost exclusive marketing rights in 2001 and sales tumbled. The drug’s global sales peaked at $2.8 billion in 1998 and were $448.2 million in 2003, according to the company.