Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I know this will be, let's say, interesting to some of our readers. Alex Berenson today in the NYT* reports that Eli Lilly gave information to doctors that was, er, kind of, well, sort of, uhh, not the truth, as such. Actually it was what your personal ethicist might call a lie.

Lilly's biggest seller is the atypical anti-psychotic olanzapine, brand name Zyprexa. It calms hallucinations but it also causes many patients to gain weight, and some of them develop diabetes. It turns out that according to data from clinical trials, 3.6% of people on olanzapine developed high blood sugar, compared with 1.05% on placebo. (Berenson doesn't say so, but this would have been over a short period. The long-term risk is considerably higher.) However, the information they provided to doctors (presumably in the so-called "label," or package insert, although Berenson is not specific) said there was little difference. Lilly also chose not to disclose the results of a study that found that 16 percent of patients taking Zyprexa for a year gained more than 66 pounds -- which is obviously very dangerous.

Now, that degree of obesity is life threatening. So, what's the word for telling lies, with the motive of financial gain, that result in the deaths of human beings?

*Long-term readers may note that the former NYWT has lost the "W," at least for now. We'll see if they continue to merit non-whore status -- they're on probation.