Lilly Caves, Agrees To Add Warnings To Schizophrenia Drug

Zyprexa, Lilly’s best-selling drug to treat schizophrenia, has been shown to cause “cause weight gain, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and other metabolic problems,” but until now, the company has refused to add any warnings about these side effects to the label. Now, sparked in part by lower sales, Lilly has announced that Zyprexa will warn consumers that it can cause high blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association claims that Zyprexa causes diabetes, but this isn’t addressed on the new warning labels.

Lilly has spent $1.2 billion since 2004 to settle lawsuits from 28,500 people who claimed they developed diabetes or heart problems after taking the drug, although Lilly says that Zyprexa has never been proven to cause diabetes. At least 1,200 more lawsuits are still pending.

“Atypical antipsychotic” medicines like Zyprexa are one of the industry’s most profitable drug lines, but according to the article, there’s little evidence that they’re more effective than older, generic medicines “that cost just pennies a pill.”

“Lilly Adds Label Warnings for Mental Illness Drug” [New York Times]

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  1. DannyHaszard says:

    ZYPREXA VICTIM & NEW YORK TIMES VINDICATION!

    The issue is that Zyprexa is indicated for less than 1% of the population and it IS the most dangerous of all it’s anti-psychotic cousins.

    Zyprexa was PUSHED by Lilly “viva zyprexa” on a ton of non-symptomatic patients at up to $10.00 a pill to further their own greed

    Point of fact here,it is Eli Lilly who boast in over 80 major news/press releases on how they have “settled” their zyprexa claims for $1.2 billion.

    A) this payout is an admission of guilt? What would you call it if not that?

    B) they in fact have NOT settled (past tense) and have paid out no where near $1.2 billion

    Just up on the google Eli Lilly zyprexa news wire on how a Texas law firm is expected to PROFIT $90 million on litigation.

    Why are lawyers on both sides getting fat off of mental patients?

    Zyprexa was promoted indiscriminately {Viva Zyprexa} with much glamour as an ‘anti-psychotic’ panacea cure-all for patients with psychological trauma and other issues.There is only a narrow range of patients with schizophrenia accompanied by delusional hallucinations or for agitated manic patients who are FDA approved for good reason.

    All zyprexa does for the rest of us patients is make you unproductive and sleep a lot.
    The drug was ‘tainted’ in that warnings about dangerous side effects were withheld.It was Eli Lilly that manufactured,promoted and exaggerated the efficacy of it’s defective zyprexa product.

    Lilly has boasted of a whopping $1.2 billion zyprexa settlement injury fund way back,has given over $100 million of that to their lawyer buds and stonewalled true victims like myself.

    I paid for the zyprexa out of my own pocket at $250 month co-pay X 4 years it didn’t work as they promised and gave me diabetes now I want my money back.

    -

    Daniel Haszard

  2. Hambriq says:

    *rolls eyes at Daniel’s dramatic outburst* P.S. Nice website, buddy.

    Anyway.

    This statement in the article is extremely suspect: “Heavily marketed by drug companies, atypical antipsychotic medicines have become one of the biggest and fastest-growing drug classes… despite little evidence that the new drugs work any better than older generic anti-psychotic medicines that cost just pennies a pill.

    Really? According to whom? I guess the New York Times is above providing evidence for the bold claims it makes.

    On one hand, I don’t completely disagree with the statement, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a medical authority who would back this statement up without any qualms or exclusions.

  3. carblover says:

    My brother has been on Zyprexa for about 3 years. During that time, he had to go for monthly blood tests and basically spent those years sleeping. I always wondered why his doctors pushed this drug with all of the (what I thought were obvious) side effects. Unfortunately it seemed as though it was the only drug to help him control schizophrenia. Finally he’s had enough of the blood tests, weight gain and forced sleeping (I don’t blame him) and we’re trying out other drug options. I was happy to wake up to this article and see that they are finally putting a warning label on the product. If there is no concern about the patients health, then why all the blood tests?

  4. Captain Sassypants says:

    Hambriq:

    Either half of the bolded statement above is easily verifiable.

    1. Call your local pharmacy. Ask about pricing for a 30 day supply of both Zyprexa and older, generic anti-psychotic medications. You will likely find a startling price discrepancy. This is normal.

    2. Google search “Zyprexa” with terms such as “efficacy” or “clinical trials.” Comparison is typically made in drug trials between the medication being tested and a placebo and/or an existing well-tolerated medication.

  5. Rusted says:

    Also found Olanzapine which seems to be the proper name. Zyprexa is the brand name. NIH is a good place to dig for info.

  6. Hambriq says:

    @girlstyle:

    1. Thank you for the clarification. Being that I work in a pharmacy and 90% of my job is knowing how much prescription drugs cost, I had no idea that this was the case. Thank you for educating me.

    2. I thank you again, this time for providing me with absolutely nothing. Oftentimes I find myself lacking when it comes to completely worthless platitudes such as “Google it”, so it’s really helpful to me when you give me one.

    But on a more serious note: next time you want to be smarmy and passive-aggressively condescending, make sure that either 1.) You know what you’re talking about, or 2.) The person you are trying to make yourself feel better than doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

    Unfortunately, neither of these are the case. My job is to know the things that you are pretending to know. I’ll ignore the inane obviousness of the first point of your post, and move onto the only slightly less asinine second point. Let’s look at what you said for a second.

    Comparison is typically made… between the medication being tested and… an existing well-tolerated medication.

    So basically, you’re telling me to Google it. You’re copping out, hoping that someone else would provide the evidence that I said should have been provided in the NYT article in the first place… So what purpose did your post serve? You may as well have said, “I think you’re wrong but have no basis of facts upon which I have formed my opinion, so I’m hoping the ambiguity of my response will make me look right!”

    I’ll try to be slightly constructive with this post and explain things for the rest of the readers out there. Zyprexa is an atypical anti-psychotic, as are a number of other drugs such as Invega, Risperdal, Abilify, etc. There are no generics currently available for any atypical antipsychotics (although Risperdal is due to become generic relatively soon). The drugs available for “pennies a pill” are the typical anti-psychotics. Doctors tend to prefer atypicals for a number of reasons, which range from a lower incidence of side effects to an increased level effectiveness.

    Typical anti-psychotics are cheap, sure. But to suggest that there is “little evidence that the [atypical anti-psychotics] work any better than older generic [typical] anti-psychotic medicines” flies in the face of most medical literature. Again, I’m not saying I disagree 100%, but I think in the interest of giving that article even the slightest modicum of credibility, a bold statement such as that needs to be sourced.

  7. Hambriq says:

    @girlstyle:
    I will make a concession here: I am not a doctor and I have not had any direct experience using any atypical or typical anti-psychotics on patients, so I cannot comment on their efficacy in that regard. My knowledge of the subject is purely academic; I know the mechanisms behind the drugs and I have read the pertinent literature. However, both of those tend to disprove the statement made in the NYT article.

    Now, Girlstyle, after reading a few of your other posts, I assume you are involved in the health care industry in some way. If that is the case, and you are qualified to make a judgment regarding the efficacy of atypical vs. typical anti-psychotics, I would welcome your input on the subject.

  8. BGB-ATL says:

    Zyprexa may have problems but it is truly a wonder drug. While it is simple for you to say “Oh, it has side effects and there are older drugs out there that are cheaper,” I think that it is VERY telling that nobody has named those drugs. They are talking about HALDOL and THORAZINE, people!!! The side effect profile of these drugs is horrible. Nobody taking these drugs can lead a productive life in society; they are zombies.

    I owe everything to Zyprexa…without it I would not have a job or own a house, much less pay taxes. This has to be the most one-sided and inaccurate articles I have ever seen on the Consumerist. I am so disappointed in whomever posted this.

  9. nardo218 says:

    It’s an antipsychotic, not an anti-schizophrnia pill. It’s given for dozens of conditions.

    little evidence that they’re more effective than older, generic medicines

    This is … just completely, GREVIOUSLY wrong. Atypicals are a completely different type of drug, they’re not the “new and improved”. They often work on different chemicals and receptors in the brain, and at different intervals. They’re given for the same conditions but have very different effects, especially different side effects. They’ve created a functional quality of life for millions of people who were unresponsive to the older class of drugs, who couldn’t stand the side effects — which can be life altering — or were only partially helped and therefore partially functional.

    Do some research, Consumerist.

  10. alilz says:

    I took Zypreza and it was horrible. I was hungry all the time, even after I ate and was full (or over full and feeling uncomfortable) I’d still feel hungry. I gained a bunch of weight because of it before my doctor took me off of Zyprexa and put me on something different.

    But saying that generics are just as good as the atypicals isn’t correct. I don’t think any of the newer medications are available as generics. I know that the two I currently take (Lamictal and Seroquel) don’t have generics.

  11. @BGB-ATL & @nardo218: As some other readers are already discussing, this is indeed a bold claim to make without offering any evidence. This is why I wrote “according to the article” and not “it’s widely accepted.”

    To address wider concerns: I don’t think anyone is claiming that Zyprexa doesn’t work. The issue is whether or not it has serious side effects (e.g., possibly causing diabetes), and if so then whether or not the pharmaceutical company is behaving responsibly by warning consumers of the risks. The NYT article points out that Lilly wants to start marketing this more to adolescents, “despite clinical trial data showing that Zyprexa causes weight gain and metabolic problems in teenagers that can be even more severe than in adults.”

    It’s actually a very interesting article and I encourage you both to read it. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way–it really is worth reading.

    Also: we never called it an “anti-schizophrenia” pill. I think that was a commenter’s typo and wasn’t deliberate.