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September 1, 2006

Case Report
Michael S. Appel

Favorable settlement of pharmaceutical case

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Susan Broh, a previously healthy 57 year-old woman, died in September 2001 of massive liver failure caused by Serzone, an anti-depressant manufactured and sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which she had begun taking less than three months earlier for mild depression, on the advice and prescription of a psychiatrist. Shortly after Susan began taking Serzone, BMS sent a letter to doctors in Canada, warning them about reports of severe liver injury associated with use of the drug, and recommending that a number of precautions be followed whenever it was prescribed. BMS provided similar warnings in other countries at the behest of local regulators, but failed to give the same information to doctors in the United States until several months after Susan’s death, when the company was ordered by the FDA to place a “black-box” warning on the label for Serzone. Susan was unmarried at the time of her death, and had no children. Sugarman Rogers was retained to represent her estate, and brought suit against BMS in New York. In 2005, BMS entered into an agreement to settle Serzone cases nationwide, including this matter, which settled for $2.9 million.