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INDIANAPOLIS-Ely Lilly & Co. has warned Nutri/System Weight Loss Centers against substituting the antidepressant drug Prozac, which Eli Lilly manufactures, for fenfluramine since the latter drug has been recalled.

In a letter to Joseph DiBartolomeo, vp for scientific affairs at Horsham, Pa.-based Nutri/System, Lilly said the use of Prozac in combination with phentermine "is not supported in any way by Eli Lilly & Co. because the company has not conducted safety and efficacy registration trials for this use. Prozac is not authorized for the treatment of obesity or weight control by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."

Until its recall earlier this month, fenfluramine had been used in combination with phentermine to create the popular diet drug combination known as "Fen-Phen."

A spokeswoman for Lilly declined to say whether the letter was part of a strategy to shield the company from liability should complications result from Nu-tri/System's dispensing of the new combination, which it dubbed "Phen-Pro."

Sources say Nutri/System has coverage for professional liability, medical malpractice liability and vicarious liability from National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., a unit of American International Group Inc.

Nutri/System did not return phone calls. An AIG spokesman wouldn't confirm the coverage information.