“To reassure doctors, Lilly also publicly said that when it followed up with patients who had taken Zyprexa in a clinical trial for three years, it found that weight gain appeared to plateau after about nine months. But the company did not discuss a far less reassuring finding in early 1999, disclosed in the documents, that blood sugar levels in the patients increased steadily for three years.
In 2000 and 2001, more warning signs emerged, the documents show. In four surveys conducted by Lilly’s marketing department, the company found that 70 percent of psychiatrists polled had seen at least one of their patients develop high blood sugar or diabetes while taking Zyprexa, compared with about 20 percent for Risperdal or Seroquel. Lilly never disclosed those findings.”
Lilly also instructed its sales reps to downplay the medication’s risks. Lilly’s written response to these documents? “In summary, there is no scientific evidence establishing that Zyprexa causes diabetes.” It also said that the release of the documents was “illegal.” Nice defense – deny it and then say that the documents are not valid because they were obtained illegally. This ought to make for quite a legal spectacle.
Another apt quote from the NYT: “In some ways, the Zyprexa documents are reminiscent of those produced in litigation over Vioxx, which Merck stopped selling in 2004 after a clinical trial proved it caused heart problems. They treat very different conditions, but Zyprexa and Vioxx are not entirely dissimilar. Both were thought to be safer than older and cheaper drugs, becoming bestsellers as a result, but turned out to have serious side effects.”
You really should read the full article, since I have only covered some of the evidence here. The only surprise is that the company documents were made public (Thank You James Gottstein!), as the evidence has been mounting for some time that olanzapine was a risky drug whose small at best efficacy advantages were offset by its nasty tendency to produce diabetes.
Hat Tip: Furious Seasons.