Eli Lilly agrees to settle 18,000 Zyprexa claims

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zyprexaINDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Lilly and Co. said Thursday that it will settle about 18,000 additional lawsuits alleging that the drug maker did not adequately warn patients that its anti-psychotic medication Zyprexa carries a heightened risk of diabetes.

Lilly did not disclose the amount of the settlement but said in a statement that it would take a fourth-quarter settlement charge that is not expected to exceed $500 million.

The announcement follows a settlement in June 2005 under which the Indianapolis-based company agreed to pay about $700 million to resolve more than 8,000 similar lawsuits involving Zyprexa, its top-selling drug.

Lilly spokeswoman Tarra Ryker said that the new settlement covered more plaintiffs for less money because the 18,000 cases were less viable because of a Zyprexa labeling change in 2003 that addressed the drug's possible diabetes risk.

She said the company plans to go to trial, beginning in April, to defend itself against the 1,200 remaining claims, which she said are not being settled for "various reasons." Lilly declined to elaborate on the specific reasons.

Sales of Zyprexa, which is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, accounted for 28 percent of Lilly's $3.86 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter.

Most of the lawsuits claimed that before September 2003, the information on Zyprexa labels regarding the risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes was not adequately displayed. Hyperglycemia is a condition in which the blood has elevated sugar levels, typical in diabetics.

Lilly also faces lawsuits filed by the attorneys general of Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and West Virginia alleging that it marketed Zyprexa for unapproved uses or hid the risks of weight gain and diabetes, company spokeswoman Carole Witsken Puls said.

Lilly shares rose 11 cents to close at $52.36 on the New York Stock Exchange.

via NWSource