Posted on Tue, Feb. 10, 2004


Woman testing depression drug kills herself


Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - A Bucks County, Pa., woman participating in human testing of an experimental anti-depression drug killed herself at a test laboratory in Indianapolis, Ind., police have reported.

Authorities are awaiting the outcome of toxicology tests on the body of Traci Johnson, 19, of Bensalem, who police said hanged herself Saturay at the Lilly Laboratory for Clinical Research. A nurse found her dead about 8:20 p.m. in a bathroom at the laboratory.

A spokeswoman for the Marion County coroner's office said it might take up to two months for the results of toxicological tests.

Laura Bradbard, a spokeswoman for the federal Food and Drug Administration, said, "The agency is aware of this death and is concerned."

A Lilly spokesman, Rob Smith, said the toxicology tests "in all likelihood" won't definitively prove whether the impact of the drug, duloxetine, or Johnson's withdrawal from it, caused her to take her own life. "We have not seen any sign that the drug can be linked to any kind of suicidal behavior," he said.

Relatives of Johnson, a former Indiana Bible College student, could not be reached yesterday.

The drug is being tested for both depression and stress urinary incontinence.

Smith said final testing of duloxetine required for FDA approval is nearing its conclusion.

He said the company would "let facts guide us," but "it appears this is an isolated tragedy."

Johnson was among 100 healthy participants in the latest tests, Smith said. She received $150 a day plus meals.

Johnson initially took the drug but recently was switched to a placebo, Smith said.

Smith said there had been four suicides in the clinical trials for duloxetine, out of 9,000 participants.

He said it was "very, very rare" for healthy participants to take their own life.

"The deaths in the study occurred with people who actually were depressed when they started the study."

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2004, Philadelphia Daily News.

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