Thursday, January 04, 2007

Newspeak Update:

There is yet another article in the New York Times on Zyprexa today. It is not flattering. To make a long and sad story short, a patient gained a lot of weight on Zyprexa (80 pounds over five years) and died of a heart attack. Granted, who knows if the Zyprexa was responsible for the weight gain and subsequent death, but it raises suspicions.

The part of the article I’ll focus on is the language used by Lilly in its response. As I’ve alluded to in a prior post, Lilly has trotted out Newspeak, or Maximum PR, to defend its drug. One of their statements regarding the latest incident was “Zyprexa is a lifesaving drug.”

Does Zyprexa save lives? As a class of drugs, atypical antipsychotics, of which Zyprexa is a member relate to a higher death rate compared to placebo for elderly patients with dementia. In schizophrenia, compared to clozapine, Zyprexa is associated with more suicide attempts. I am not familiar with any research showing that Zyprexa relates to fewer suicide attempts than any other treatment or less suicide than a placebo. Please inform me of any studies to the contrary – I could have missed something.

Enough about suicide. We know that Zyprexa can cause diabetes and we know that diabetes is not good for one’s health and life expectancy. Now, the clincher from the New York Times story today: “[Lilly’s] own clinical trials show the drug causes 16 percent of the patients who take Zyprexa to gain more than 66 pounds after a year.”

Yeah, that’s a lifesaver.

Hat Tip: Furious Seasons.

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