The trial, which began in U.S. District Court in Boston on Monday, July 27, 2009, is the first of about 1,200 lawsuits alleging Pfizer promoted Neurontin for unapproved uses and failed to warn consumers nationwide about the increased risk of suicide. The trial was expected to last three weeks, but was dismissed after the victim’s family dropped the suit. The case was viewed as a tough one for Lanier, who was representing the family of Susan Bulger, a 39-year-old woman from Peabody, Mass. with a history of drug abuse, depression and several suicide attempts. Bulger had been taking Neurontin for rheumatoid arthritic pain. She had used the drug of a specific period of time then committed suicide sometime in September 2004.
The Pfizer lawyers claimed a victory in the case, but Lanier told Bloomberg that the dismissal merely postpones plaintiffs’ verdicts in subsequent cases (cases still pending). For example, the next trial is slated to start March 29, 2010, in Boston Federal Court, although a case in Tennessee state court may start earlier than this date. During opening arguments on Tuesday, July 28, 2009, Plaintiff lawyer Lanier said Bulger had “kicked her drug problem and was trying to turn her life around at the time of her death. Neurontin was a contributing cause of her suicide,” he claimed. He also said Warner-Lambert, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2000, knew before the drug was introduced to the market in 1993 that it increased the risk of suicide when taken for a specific period of time. Although Neurontin was approved only as an anti-epilepsy medication, the drug company aggressively promoted a variety of non-approved uses, including pain control, according to Lanier. It will be interesting to see what happens next legally with these trials in Tennessee and Boston.
If you or a loved one needs more information on the use of Neurontin and its link with suicide, you may contact Attorney Mark C. Blane at toll free (888) 845-6269, or email at [email protected]