Friday, February 09, 2007

Secrecy's Dangerous Side Effects

     Common Dreams

Published on Thursday, February 8, 2007 by the Los Angeles Times

When legal settlements allow companies to hide their mistakes, what we don't know can hurt us.
by Richard Zitrin

Drug Giant Eli Lilly & Co. recently settled 18,000 lawsuits brought by people claiming they were injured by the side effects of its biggest-selling drug, Zyprexa, which is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But the $500 million in settlements says less about the dangers of the drug than the dangers of secrecy.
About 18 months earlier, Lilly had settled 8,000 other Zyprexa cases for $700 million. But those settlements required the plaintiffs to return all sensitive documents obtained through the legal discovery process to Lilly — a requirement that kept the strongest smoking-gun evidence out of public view. The plaintiffs also had to agree "not to communicate, publish or cause to be published, in any public or business forum or context, any statement, whether written or oral, concerning the specific events, facts or circumstances giving rise to [their] claims."
Lilly had strong motivation to settle. The documents contained evidence that Zyprexa caused large, often enormous, weight gain in many patients, significantly increasing the risk of dangerously high blood-sugar levels and diabetes. They also showed that Lilly knew about the problems in 1999, largely through its own research. Other documents outlined a marketing scheme to encourage physicians to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with early signs of dementia. This strategy not only had no clinical evidence to support it, it promoted an "off-label" use not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, a violation of federal law.   Entire Article

    The drug companies have been doing this shit since their first lawsuit, that is why there should be a bill introduced to make this info public knowledge. As it stands now, they pay off the plaintiffs, then continue to market the junk that they put out unless it is pulled by the FDA.


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