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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Doing Drug Testing at Lilly

A Great Edition

Marcia Angell has a devastating essay on a number of psychiatric pharmaceutical interventions but the one in particular I zeroed in on was ZYPREXA. 

I happen to know more than the average person on drugs as I tested Cymbalta at Lilly's research facility in 2004. I used to do pharma testing starting in Philadelphia with Neutrogena versus Ivory. The mild soap for babies remember? This was its downfall as it raised blisters and sore spots. Neutrogena none.

In the 1990's and into the 2000's there were many of us older women testing HRT and the pay was so good we got sucked in. It was just a whisper away from traveling and doing many different studies. The Lilly one for the drug duloxetine (before it was namedCymbalta during its trial) was conducted in 2004 in their Indianapolis very swish facility. Lilly had the top floor of the hospital and the clinical trial participants had private rooms with one roommate, personal TV sets, access to computers, vouchers for the Riley annex for the library, computers, cafeteria which one could travel to via Monorail. 

Of all the people I knew who had participated in this drug trial - another group was at an Indiana facility - were 100% in agreement that it was the worst drug they had ever tested EVER. I was no exception. I felt I had aged 20 years on it, looked terrible, and felt worse.

We were being tested with 3 X the recommended dose. IMO that was so overdosing would not be something patients would be interested in experimenting with. The higher the dose got the worse we all felt. My roommate was a poet who barely made it through and I gave her all the emotional support she needed to make it. She needed the money.

A Chinese graduate student at IUPUI was doing the work for her PhD dissertation and after 3 days on it had to quit the study as she couldn't think anymore. It was easy to see who got dosed and who got the placebo. You just took one look at their face after a few days.

There is a moment on Cymbalta when it seems to hit a boundary in your mind that frees you. I had just lost a beloved dog before I came for the study and was already in a state of grief. I remember that moment. But the next day the dose increased and it was all gone and nothing but downhill after that.

There was a lovely young girl from  Indiana Bible College named Traci Johnson in my study. She had wide apart dark eyes and was very innocent, participating in the study to help with her tuition payments. 

She hung herself in her bathroom while her roommate was not there.

Immediately the other Bible students dropped from the study. The newspapers were all over it and the outside of the hospital was filled with their wanting to interview us. We often went to use the library at IUPUI and the computers there. So we passed through this throng, but they had no way of knowing we were in the study from all the patients going in and out for their appointments. None of us wanted to talk with them as that would have meant being banned from all future Lilly studies. And this was a $4000 study we were in for 6 weeks. So cowards that we were we shut up. The Johnson family was represented by a small law firm in Pennsylvania - not a big time Philadelphia attorney - so they were screwed from the beginning. Lilly put on a great PR campaign, gave her a fabulous funeral, etc and the Johnsons lost their daughter. 

In 2001 Lilly had had another law suit with Zyprexa and they paid $800 million to make that one go away as it had been used for schizophrenia, and it had not been tested for that, only for depression. 

Lauren Slater wrote the other essay in this book on Zyprexa with the title Killing My Body to Save My Mind. It was bone chilling for me to read this one and she ate her way into obesity as Zyprexa fuels an enormous appetite. I remember how much I ate at that cafeteria with my vouchers. 

Please please just consider being melancholy. This is what depression used to be called. Many wonderful scientists, writers, artists have been afflicted with it. And it is a piece of cake instead of doing Zyprexa. If all FDA drug testing were done on the doctors who are going to prescribe it, that might help the situation.

I have had a great deal of comment flaming at me whenever I have mentioned the ill effects of Cymbalta to someone on it.