Eli Lilly, one of the foremost drug manufacturers for the diabetes industry, are facing controversy after leaked documents reveal a culture of playing down health risks.
The shocking news concerns attempts by Lilly managers and executives to play down the weight gain side effects of the drug Zyprexa. Zyprexa is not specifically used in diabetic cases, but is instead a schizophrenia medication.
The drug is also Lilly’s top-seller, raking in sales worth $4.2 billion in 2005. A lawyer who represents the mentally ill gave the documents to the Times Newspaper. They indicate that executives for Lilly retained crucial information from doctors about the influence of Zyprexa on obesity, and also its tendency to increase blood sugar levels. Both of these conditions are well known risk factors for diabetes.
Critics of the drug, who include the American Diabetes Associatio, claim that it is more likely to cause weight gain or diabetes than other drugs. Eli Lilly has defended their drug, claiming that the documents were taken out of context.
One American expert went on record saying: “From my personal experience, at first my concerns about weight gain with this drug were very significantly downplayed by their field representatives. Their continued efforts to downplay that, I think in retrospect, was an embarrassment to the company .”