Thursday, January 6, 2000

Parents allege
Prozac caused son
to commit suicide

They file wrongful death suit
against the drug manufacturer

Star-Bulletin staff


The antidepressant Prozac is being blamed for another death in Hawaii.

The parents of Hugh Blowers filed a wrongful death suit in U.S. District Court today against Eli Lilly & Company, manufacturers of the drug. The company launched Prozac into the United States in 1988 after the Federal and Drug Administration in 1987 approved it for the treatment of depression.

According to the suit, Blowers committed suicide and died June 3 in Pearl City after taking only seven Prozac tablets.

The suit accuses Lilly of overpromoting the drug and failing to adequately warn doctors and patients that it could cause suicidal and violent tendencies, despite articles published by two highly respected Harvard psychiatrists and testimony from an expert witness hired by Lilly.

Blowers suffered from clinical depression and was at risk for and frequently indicated suicidal thoughts, the suit said. But according to Blowers' writings, artwork and his psychiatrist, his will to live was strong and he was willing to seek help and was undergoing treatment.

Had his doctor been warned of the risks or that an expert hired by Lilly had testified just months earlier in U.S. District Court that Prozac was a "substantial factor" in the murder-suicide of a Maui couple in 1993, Blowers' life would have been saved, the suit said.

A federal jury in April found Lilly not guilty in the death of William Forsyth Sr., who killed himself after stabbing his wife -- the first wrongful death case attributed to Prozac tried here.

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2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin