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Scary But True

What Should You Know Before You Swallow That Pill?​

The Tragic Story Of Traci Johnson​

Medications are tested thoroughly and, other than some rare cases, are generally safe. Right? The story of Traci Johnson, a 19 year old student who participated in a drug trial for Eli Lilly puts the dangers of psychotropic drugs into perspective.

In 2004, Traci Johnson opted to help Eli Lilly test the SNRI antidepressant duloxetine, also known as Cymbalta. Johnson was tested and found to not be depressive and did not have any diagnosis that would otherwise indicate usage of this drug. Nevertheless, to make money to keep her educational endeavors alive, she participated in the paid trial.

At the end of the trial for Traci, Eli Lilly cut her medication of duloxetine off immediately. Within a week, Johnson returned to the Lilly lab in Indiana and hung herself. We know that sudden cessation of these drugs is incredibly dangerous - but the FDA approved the drug months later. Lilly responded simply by saying "It's a sad fact, it's a tragic fact, that sometimes these patients commit suicide" - completely dismissive of their own negligence that caused harm.

It wasn't until 2012, thanks to a class action lawsuit, that Eli Lilly had to warn of the risk of suicide for those getting off of the medication. That leaves an 8 year gap of patients and doctors who were none the wiser to this risk.