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Family drops “suicide drug” case


The family of a suicide victim have accepted $50,000 (£30,300) from an anonymous donor to drop the first personal injury case against Pfizer, whose drug Neurontin had been linked to suicide.

Mark Lanier, the family’s lawyer, had just finished the first day of testimony when the offer was made to Susan Bulger’s 10-year-old daughter. US District Judge Patty Saris then permanently dismissed the case, which was being heard in Boston.

Ms Bulger had been taking the epilepsy drug Neurontin for unapproved uses – depression and rheumatoid arthritis – when she hung herself on August 4, 2004.

According to Lanier, a high-profile plaintiffs attorney, the case is the first to come to trial out of 1,200 lawsuits alleging Neurontin led people to attempt or commit suicide.

Pfizer said Neurontin, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has been on the market since 1993, was prescribed to millions of patients safely and effectively. Pfizer said there was no evidence Neurontin, which is approved only for treating epilepsy seizures and nerve pain, caused suicidal behaviour.

The drug is one of 21 anti-seizure drugs that must carry warnings they slightly increased the risk of suicidal behaviour.

Copyright Press Association 2009

U.S Food and Drug Administration

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