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Lilly, the US Big Pharma that has consistently denied any link between Zyprexa, its antipsychotic drug, and diabetes, was concerned about the side-effects of the drug as early as 1998, according to The Times, quoting documents seen by the newspaper.
In one document dated October 9, 2000, Robert Baker, a senior Lilly clinical research physician, e-mailed colleagues about a meeting of an academic advisory board he had attended in Atlanta.
It had “reinforced my impression that hyperglycemia remains quite a threat for olanzapine and may merit increasing even further medical attention and marketing focus on this topic”. Dr Baker added: “[The board was] quite impressed by the magnitude of weight gain on olanzapine and implications for glucose.”
Another internal document dated October 14-15, 1998, described the risk of weight gain as a “top threat” to Zyprexa.
This month Lilly agreed to pay up to $500 million to settle 18,000 lawsuits from people who claimed that they had developed diabetes or other diseases after taking Zyprexa.
Lilly has so far agreed to pay out more than $1.2 billion to 28,500 people, who had claimed that their health was damaged by the drug.
Another 1,200 lawsuits are continuing.