Eli Lilly and Co. has settled a long-running wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a South Dakota boy who committed suicide on Christmas Eve 2004, four weeks after taking the antidepressant Cymbalta.
The settlement comes a month before a jury trial was set to begin in a South Dakota federal court.
Terms weren’t disclosed in court filings. An order filed last week by a magistrate judge said the settlement involved setting up a trust fund bearing the name of the 16-year-old boy, Peter Schilf. The order also refers to “payment by Lilly of the agreed confidential amount.”
Lilly’s marketing partner for Cymbalta, Quintiles Transnational of Durham, N.C., is a co-defendant in the case. The case will be dismissed “once the (settlement) funds have been distributed,” the order said.
Cymbalta, Lilly’s top-selling drug, was approved for use in the United States in 2004 for depression and, later, for other conditions. It had sales of $5 billion last year.
The lawsuit charged that Lilly and Quintiles failed to adequately warn patients that the drug could cause suicidal inclinations in some users. The lawsuit also said that Lilly didn’t tell doctors about the February 2004 case of a 19-year-old student who committed suicide by hanging while taking part in a Lilly-sponsored patient trial of Cymbalta for urinary incontinence.
Schilf was prescribed the drug in November 2004 and killed himself by a self-inflicted gunshot a month later, the lawsuit said. A Food and Drug Administration-recommended black-box warning about suicidality wasn’t added to Cymbalta’s label until 2005, the lawsuit said.
The case was originally filed in state court in South Dakota and moved to federal court in early 2007.
An attorney for the Schilfs, Houston trial lawyer Andy Vickery, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Vickery has represented more than a dozen clients in the past who sued Lilly over failure to divulge suicidal inclinations linked to its former best-selling antidepressant Prozac. Many of those cases also were confidentially settled.
An attorney for the Schilfs, Houston trial lawyer Andy Vickery, and a Lilly spokeswoman acknowledged the settlement had occurred but would not comment on it.
Call Star reporter Jeff Swiatek at (317)444-6483.