The plaintiff filed the lawsuit claiming he now suffers from diabetes and permanent bodily and mental harm after taking Zyprexa. He also argues that his illness has caused mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. According to the lawsuit, he was prescribed Zyprexa in October, 2000.
The lawsuit argues that Eli Lilly, makers of Zyprexa, knew of the risks associated with taking the drug including diabetes, pancreatitis, and hyperglycemia. It goes on to argue that Eli Lilly waited until March 1, 2004 to send out a "Dear Doctor" letter to physicians, alerting them to the risks even though the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required such a warning back in September, 2003.
Eli Lilly has been in a lot of trouble lately, facing numerous lawsuits regarding Zyprexa and allegedly misleading the public about the risks associated with taking the drug.
In what was a mixed victory for Eli Lilly recently, a judge granted an order preventing Dr. David Egilman, James Gottstein, and other individuals from disseminating confidential records to other organizations and required them to return to the court all copies of the records in their possession.
However, the judge refused Eli Lilly's request to prevent websites from publishing the documents. The documents are alleged to show that Eli Lilly intentionally mislead the public about Zyprexa's side effects, including weight gain, high blood sugar, and diabetes. The documents allegedly also show that Eli Lilly marketed Zyprexa for "off-label" uses. Although it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe medication for "off-label" use, meaning use not approved by the FDA, it is illegal for drug companies to market the drugs for such use.
The confidential documents had originally been ordered sealed by the courts as part of a settlement which saw Eli Lilly pay over $1.2 billion. They showed that in Eli Lilly's own trials, 16 percent of people who took Zyprexa gained over 66 pounds after taking the drug for a year.
Earlier this month, an FDA whistleblower told Congress that Zyprexa must be watched more closely by the FDA. Dr. David Graham cited weight gain and diabetes as serious concerns that should be monitored by the organization.
On January 5, 2007, Eli Lilly agreed to pay $500 million to settle 18,000 lawsuits. The plaintiffs claimed they developed diabetes and other health problems after taking Zyprexa. Despite having settled 28,000 suits, Eli Lilly still faces another 1,200 claims including lawsuits filed by five states against the drug manufacturer. The state of Alaska is suing Eli Lilly in order to get the company to pay for the treatment of Medicaid patients who developed adverse health conditions after taking Zyprexa. Other states with lawsuits against Eli Lilly are Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia.