Monday, December 18, 2006

Zyprexa: Did Drugmaker Hide Risks?

The NYT reports that drugmaker Eli Lilly may have tried to play down the health risks of schizophrenia drug Zyprexa.

The NYT referred to hundreds of internal documents and e-mail messages circulated by employee. The NYT article says that Lilly executives allegedly withheld important information from doctors about Zyprexa's links to obesity and elevated blood sugar, risk factors for diabetes.

The drug company's own published data (according to the Times) showed that nearly thirty percent of patients taking Zyprexa gain more than twenty pounds or more after a year on the drug. Some gained more than 100 pounds.

The documents show Lilly's concern that Zyprexa sales would suffer if the company
was more candid about the drug's risk of causing unmanageable weight gain or diabetes. As expected the company disputes the claims. Lilly through reps said that there is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.

In an internal document, Lilly employees discussed that the drug was associated with weight gain and possible hyperglycemia, and this would be a threat to the long-term success of the drug. The date of the document was 1999.

The documents were apparently given to the NYT by James Gottstein, a lawyer representing mentally ill patients who is suing the state of Alaska over its efforts to force patients to take psychiatric medicines against their will.

Source - NYT.