Florida Woman's Medical Records Used To Target Her For Direct Mail Containing Prozac

Profession:Reed Smith Hall Dickler

Originally published on July 15, 2002

A lawsuit filed in Broward County (Florida) Circuit Court alleges that drug maker Eli Lilly obtained access to patients' medical records and sent targeted mail containing free samples of Prozac to individuals diagnosed with depression. The class action lawsuit reportedly says that the name plaintiff had a diagnosis of depression "which she maintains in the strictest of confidence due to potential public embarrassment and employment repercussions," but she did not have a prescription for Prozac. The lawsuit reportedly names Eli Lilly ó the maker of Prozac ó Walgreens drug stores, three doctors and a local hospital, charging they misused her medical records and invaded her privacy, and accuses Walgreens and Eli Lilly with "engaging in the unauthorized practice of medicine."

The letter, apparently part of a direct mail campaign, was signed by the woman's doctors, according to the reports. "Dear Patient," it began. "We are very excited to be able to offer you a more convenient way to take your antidepressant medication. For your convenience, enclosed you will find a FREE one-month trial of Prozac Weekly. Congratulations on being one step [closer] to full recovery." The plaintiff reportedly said in an interview that her doctor admitted signing blank letterhead, to which the Lilly representative added text and delivered to Walgreens for mailing. Her lawyers said they didn't know how many people in addition to their client received the junk mailings. "It could be anywhere from several dozen to several thousand," said Gary M. Farmer Jr., one of the lawyers.

A Walgreens spokesman said the Prozac that the plaintiff received was not a sample similar to...

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