Courthouse News Service
(CN) - Parents of a South Dakota teenager who committed suicide while taking the antidepressant Cymbalta can sue the drug's makers for failure to warn and deceit, the 8th Circuit ruled.
Dr. Richard Briggs, a family physician, allegedly gave samples of Cymbalta to 16-year-old Peter Schilf in 2004, partly because he believed this drug was less linked to suicide than other antidepressants like Prozac.
But the doctor apparently did not know that Eli Lilly & Co. had sponsored five clinical trials of Cymbalta, studying it separately from other antidepressants. There was also a Food and Drug Administration advisory that said drugmakers would have to include "black box" warnings on their antidepressants, informing consumers about the increased risk of suicidality in children and teens with major depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders.
The Cymbalta samples given to Schilf had been removed from their packaging and contained no warning information.
Schilf's father, Paul, says he researched Cymbalta with his son, and would not have let the teen take the medication if they saw a warning about suicidality.
Schilf committed suicide one month later in December 2004, and his parents sued Eli Lilly and Quintiles Transnational Corp.
The physician who gave Schilf the Cymbalta samples testified that he did not know five suicides occurred during Cymbalta clinical trials. He also said that Eli Lilly failed to warn about a causal connection between its product and suicidality.
Eli Lilly revised the Cymbalta literature to include the FDA-approved black box warning one month after Schilf's death.