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News2007May › Antipsychotic: Eli Lilly suppresses data that reveals drug's danger, papers claim › May 2007

Antipsychotic: Eli Lilly suppresses data that reveals drug's danger, papers claim

Sensitive documents that suggest the drug maker Eli Lilly has been suppressing vital safety information about its best-selling antipsychotic Zyprexa (olanzapine) have been leaked to media sources in the USA

Sensitive documents that suggest the drug maker Eli Lilly has been suppressing vital safety information about its best-selling antipsychotic Zyprexa (olanzapine) have been leaked to media sources in the USA.

The company has now obtained a court injunction that orders 16 individuals and groups to stop publishing the documents, and to remove copies from web sites.

The documents claim that Eli Lilly "engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa", said the New York Times, one of the sources that was given the documents. The chief scientist, in charge of the drug's development, in 1999 told employees that "weight gain and possible hyperglycaemia is a major threat to the long-term success of this critically important molecule".

Despite denying a link between Zyprexa and diabetes, Eli Lilly has paid $1.2bn in order to settle 26,000 claims, including a settlement made as recently as January 5 this year to 18,000 patients.

A drug company spokesman said the claims were "without merit", and the decision to pay up "was driven, not by science, but by our desire to avoid the disruption, uncertainties, and costs of further litigation".

This is very decent of Eli Lilly. So it's strange to read, on the warning labels for the drug, that it causes hyperglycaemia, a condition that can increase the risk of diabetes.

(Sources: New York Times, 17 December, 2006; British Medical Journal, 2007; 334: 59).

E-news broadcast 18 January 2007 No.326 [Subscribe]


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