Medical Journal Apologizes to Eli Lilly

The British Medical Journal has apologized for a Jan. 1 article that suggested Eli Lilly ( LLY) failed to disclose all information about the antidepressant Prozac in a product liability trial more than 10 years ago.

The article alleged that certain documents, which the author received from an unnamed source, "had gone missing" during the 1994 trial. After the article appeared, Lilly challenged its accuracy, saying no documents had been withheld.

The journal said Thursday that it conducted a "detailed investigation" and ascertained that all of the documents cited in the article had been published previously and/or had been disclosed during the lawsuit.

"The BMJ did not intend to suggest that Eli Lilly caused these documents to go missing," the journal said. "As a result of the investigation, it is clear that these documents did not go missing. The BMJ accepts that Eli Lilly acted properly in relation to the disclosure of these documents in these claims."

The journal said that although it published the article "in good faith," it is now "happy to set the record straight and to apologize to Eli Lilly for this statement, which we now retract."

Sidney Taurel, Lilly's chairman and CEO, said: "We were disturbed by the initial BMJ article that inaccurately reported about Prozac and made negative inferences regarding our company's conduct. The apology and retraction is an important step in gaining closure on this unfortunate event. ... We accept the apology and retraction with the understanding that both our organizations are committed to providing doctors and patients with accurate information about medications."

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