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Cymbalta

Eli Lilly and Co. is conducting safety trials of its experimental depression drug Cymbalta, also known as duloxetine, after a healthy 19-year-old college student killed herself while taking the medication. Traci Johnson was one of 22 volunteers involved in a trial at Eli Lilly's clinic at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. Johnson, who did not have depression, was taken off the drug and given a placebo four days before she hung herself in one of the clinic's showers on February 7, 2004. The trial is testing whether increased doses of the medicine are safe.

Johnson was the fifth patient to commit suicide after taking Cymbalta since clinical trials began several years ago. About one-fifth of the volunteers have quit the trial since her death. Johnson's suicide adds more controversy to the ongoing debate over whether antidepressants are associated with suicidal behavior in children and teenagers.

Eli Lilly announced that the company still expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve Cymbalta sometime in the summer of 2004.