February 12, 2004
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Antidepressant test sees fifth suicide

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Drug maker Eli Lilly has been ordered to stop taking new patients for the trial of an antidepressant after a fifth person committed suicide.

The New York Times reported Traci Johnson, 19, hanged herself during the weekend at the company's Indianapolis dormitory-like laboratory. She did not leave a note.

She was one of 25 healthy patients at the clinic who were being given larger than therapeutic doses of duloxetine, which will be known as Cymbalta if it is introduced as an antidepressant.

Four days before her death, Johnson was taken off Cymbalta and given a placebo.

The study paid volunteers $150 per day plus meals.

Four other patients who were given the drug during earlier trials also committed suicide, the company said. The drug is being tested not only as an antidepressant but also as a possible treatment for stress urinary incontinence.

A review board has told Eli Lilly to stop entering new patients into the trial and to have all the current participants evaluated by an independent psychiatrist.

Robert Smith, a Lilly spokesman, said the company did not believe that duloxetine caused the suicide.

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