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Suit Claims Drug Prompted Woman to Commit Suicide

From Associated Press

A lawsuit has been filed against Eli Lilly & Co. on behalf of the family of a 20-year-old Spring Valley woman who committed suicide, allegedly while under the influence of the antidepressant drug Prozac.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Superior Court in San Diego, alleges that Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, which manufactures Prozac, should be held responsible for the death of Jennifer Barrett. The lawsuit claims Barrett fatally shot herself in the head in August, 1990, as a direct result of having taken the drug.

The lawsuit does not specify the amount of money the Barrett family is seeking in damages. It was filed on behalf of the deceased woman’s mother, Sally, father Alfred, and sister Elizabeth.

Attorney George Murgatroyd III said Jennifer Barrett, at one time an honor student at Monte Vista High school, experienced increased hostility towards her family and friends, nightmares and other strange behavior while taking Prozac.

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“She had never used or shown an interest in guns prior to (August, 1990) nor had she been suicidal,” Murgatroyd said.

The drug was prescribed for Barrett to treat her for depression and an anorexic condition, Murgatroyd said.

Prozac, now in its fourth year on the market and approaching $1 billion in annual sales worldwide, has been dogged for the past year by claims it causes violent behavior, including suicide.

A Harvard researcher’s study describing six patients who developed violently suicidal thoughts while treated with Prozac gave rise to more than 50 lawsuits against Eli Lilly.

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Murgatroyd, a partner in the Los Angeles- and Washington-based law firm of Kananack, Murgatroyd & Baum, said his firm had filed seven Prozac-related lawsuits and was planning to file three more.

“Eli Lilly & Company . . . is continuing to promote the drug without telling its users that it can make them want to destroy themselves or others,” Murgatroyd said. “Lilly has to be made responsible for the damage their drug causes.”


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