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Zyprexa Suit Launched

Jan 3, 2005 | CP

A B.C. man has launched a class-action lawsuit against drug maker Eli Lilly over its medication Zyprexa, claiming the company “minimized†the heath risks of taking the anti-psychotic drug.

The suit filed in the B.C. Supreme Court alleges Vancouver’s Marc Estrin developed diabetes as a result of taking the drug to treat schizophrena.

Eli Lilly Canada Inc. plans to “vigorously defend the lawsuit,†a spokeswoman said in a statement issued to The Canadian Press.

The statement from Laurel Swartz, senior manager of communications, said there is a risk that publicity around the case may cause some patients to stop using their medication without talking to their doctors first.

“This can have tragic consequences,†she said. “Like all medications, Zyprexia can have side effects in some patients and information about these side effects has been appropriately communicated to regulatory authorities and health-care professionals throughout the life cycle of the product.â€

Zyprexa was approved by Health Canada last year for treatment of bipolar disorder and manic depressive illness. The drug has been marketed for the sale and treatment of schizophrenia in Canada since 1996.

The class-action lawsuit against the firm still needs to be certified by a judge. If it is approved, the current plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, Estrin and his father, Aaron, would then become the representative
plaintiffs on behalf of the class.

The lawsuit claims Estrin was prescribed Zyprexa for schizophrenia several years ago until he was diagnosed with diabetes.

Had he been made aware of the serious adverse health complications he would not have taken the drug, the lawsuit claims. Estrin had no predisposition or family history of diabetes.

The allegations, yet to be proven in court, say Zyprexa has been associated with increased risk of developing diabetes, hyperglycemia, pancreatitis,ketoacidosis and other injuries.

The statement of claim alleges Eli Lilly minimized and understated health
hazards and risk associated with Zyprexa.

It also accuses the company of manipulating statistics to suggest widespread acceptability.

Similar legal action has been taken in the United States and at least one lawsuit has been launched in Ontario.

The lawsuit accuses Eli Lilly of failing to warn patients and physicians of the risks, misrepresenting the research around the benefits of the drug, and showing reckless disregard for the well-being of the public.

The plaintiffs are asking for damages for medical expenses, home care, loss of income, loss of opportunity, pain and suffering.

The lawsuit claims six million prescriptions for Zyprexa were issued in Canada over 12 months ending in October 2003, with sales valued over $4 billion worldwide in the same year.


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