Sunday, December 17, 2006

Zyprexa Coverup Exposed

Lilly’s attempt to cover up data on the risks posed by olanzapine (Zyprexa) treatment has been exposed by an article in the New York Times.

“Lilly’s own published data, which it told its sales representatives to play down in conversations with doctors, has shown that 30 percent of patients taking Zyprexa gain 22 pounds or more after a year on the drug, and some patients have reported gaining 100 pounds or more. But Lilly was concerned that Zyprexa’s sales would be hurt if the company was more forthright about the fact that the drug might cause unmanageable weight gain or diabetes, according to the documents, which cover the period 1995 to 2004.”

-- SNIP --

“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.


Anonymous said...

Now, if we could find a courageous researcher to compare the old, safer natural animal insulins that have been replaced by Lilly’s rDNA genetically-engineered human insulin, an even more horrible truth would be revealed. Ooops! Lilly managed to WITHDRAW all animal insulins from the U.S. marketplace . . . so there is nothing left to compare. (Perhaps an innovative researcher, deciding American diabetics at least deserved treatment comparable to that received by Germans, Swiss, Britains, Aussies, Argentinians, etc., could import animal insulin and make these needed for comparisons.) It would become clear, then, that Zyprexa’s diabetes-inducing properties fit very well into Lilly’s business model. As if there aren’t enough diabetics for Lilly to subjugate, Zyprexa enables Lilly to create even more diabetes-treatment consumers.

Anonymous said...


Zyprexa off label promotion scandal is all over the news now.
Lilly drug reps are alleged to have called their marketing ploy,"Viva zyprexa".

Eli Lilly zyprexa cost me over $250.00 a month supply out of my own pocket X 4 years and has up to ten times the risk (over non users) of causing diabetes and severe weight gain.

Zyprexa which is only FDA approved for schizophrenia (.5-1% of pop) and some bipolar (2% pop) and then an even smaller percentage of theses two groups.
So how does Zyprexa get to be the 7th largest drug sale in the world?
Eli Lilly is in deep trouble for using their drug reps to 'encourage' doctors to write zyprexa for non-FDA approved 'off label' uses.

The drug causes increased diabetes risk,and medicare picks up all the expensive fallout.There are now 7 states (and counting) going after Lilly for fraud and restitution.
I was ordered to take it beginning in 1996 for my PTSD for 4 years more,it was useless for my symptoms.Lesson shouldn't give a major tranquilizer like zyprexa which makes you 'sleepy' to a hyper-vigilant patient.

There is a clinical difference between hyper-vigilant and harmful aggression.
Only 9 percent of adult Americans think the pharmaceutical industry can be trusted right around the same rating as big tobacco.

Daniel Haszard

CL Psych said...

I was not aware of the insulin issue -- that is fascinating and I'd love to learn more about it. If you have more info, please contact me.