Truth Slowly Emerges
One of the courts to which victims turned was in Louisville. Circuit Judge John W. Potter presided over the 1994 trial of Lilly in a lawsuit brought by survivors and relatives in the Wesbecker shootings, while scores of additional cases waited on the sidelines for the outcome of what was effectively the test case.
The Lilly legal team had gone through 10 weeks of trial and had managed to keep the plaintiffs from presenting evidence to the jury regarding Oraflex, a Lilly drug that had caused deadly liver damage in more than 70 people in the 1980s. Lilly had ultimately pleaded guilty to 25 counts of criminal misconduct in federal court. And it had also sidestepped vast amounts of evidence regarding Prozacs harmful effects, attributing it to what it called a smear campaign, devoid of truth. The picture presented by Lillys counsel was one of a drug company which went the extra mile to protect the public from any possibility of harm, in accordance with FDA regulations.
But the scenario changed dramatically on December 6, 1994. Lilly, it seemed, had pressed its luck too far. Having put psychiatrist Robert Granacher on the stand to testify at length about the drug manufacturers purportedly unassailable standards in research and testing, Lilly had unwittingly opened the Pandoras box of its trail of human misery. By putting a safety witness on the stand, the drug maker had gone over the top and, in Judge Potters view, made safety an issue in the trial.
He held a lengthy conference with counsel. The plaintiffs lawyers pressed for a ruling that the Oraflex evidence earlier barred from the case as irrelevant could be admitted and presented to the jury. The next day, Judge Potter granted the motion and Lilly was faced with what appeared to be certain doom. If Oraflex came out, who was to say that plaintiffs couldnt admit evidence of other deadly Lilly drugs: Darvon, connected to up to 4,000 fatalities in one year alone; DES, an artificial hormone now banned for use by pregnant women after it was found that it caused cancer in the offspring of mothers who had taken it; even LSD and heroin. A recess was called until the next day.
But the Oraflex evidence never came. The next day, plaintiffs curiously and without explanation rested their case, abandoning what they had fought so long to get.
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