Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lily claims entitlement to its own facts

C. Corax sends in an article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette out in the Land that Time Forgot, where the mysterious Connecticut River, as yet unseen by civilized eyes, rushes through its impenetrable gorges. Well actually, there are five famous colleges out there and a whole lot of granola, but it seems like it's far far away from here. Anyhow, as far as I know the DHG is not on-line, so here's an excerpt:


NORTHAMPTON - A city man who co-founded a mental health advocacy group is among those drug giant Eli Lilly has sought to silence regarding documents leaked about Zyprexa, its bestselling drug for schizophrenia.

Will Hall, a member of the Freedom Center in Northampton - a group often critical of the pharmaceutical industry and that also offers support and holistic alternatives for people with mental illness - is one of 13 people named in a gag order pursued by Lilly.

The order was granted in a federal court in New York Dec. 29 and renewed on Jan. 4. It forbids Hall and others from disseminating or facilitating the dissemination of internal Lilly documents Hall and others say prove that the corporation suppressed information about the side effects of Zyprexa and promoted so-called 'off-label' use.

The documents were originally obtained via subpoena by Jim Gottstein, an Alaskan lawyer, as part of a lawsuit involving Zyprexa. Lilly alleges that Gottstein then disseminated the documents to a dozen mental-health activists who are critical of the drug industry, including Hall.

Hall, reached in Portland, Ore., Thursday, where he is working with another mental health advocacy group, said he has seen the documents, and they show that Lilly knew Zyprexa could cause diabetes and that the company pushed the use of the drug for dementia, although it is not approved for such use. Such marketing is illegal.

Lilly strongly denies the accusations. A spokeswoman for the company said questions about Zyprexa are answered at A Lilly press release on the site says media reports have omitted several facts about the drug.

'From the day that Zyprexa was approved, the labeling provided to physicians identified the potentially clinically significant weight gain that was observed in more than half of all patients treated long-term with Zyprexa, as well as the diabetes-related adverse events observed in clinical trials,' an online Lilly response states.

So is Lilly, like, telling the truth? Er, no. They aren't even twisting the truth. They aren't even cherry picking facts, or taking them out of context, or putting a misleading spin on the matter. They're just, precisely, unequivocally, unambigously, irrefutably, making shit up. Shit that ain't so. Here's Aaron Kesselheim and Jerry Avorn in the Communist-inspired, left-wing moonbat rag Journal of the American Medical Association (the new one, January 17, 2007):

For the antipsychotic olanzapine, studies emerged a few years after its approval linking it to weight gain and diabetes (7. Koller EA, Doraiswamy PM. Olanzapine-associated diabetes mellitus. Pharmacotherapy. 2002;22:841–852.); a series of patient-initiated lawsuits in early 2003 charged that Lilly did not adequately warn about these adverse effects. By September 2003, the FDA required that olanzapine's label be changed to provide a more prominent warning about diabetes-related adverse effects. In June 2005, the manufacturer announced a $690 million settlement of more than 8000 olanzapine lawsuits. The settlement required that documents revealed during the discovery process—including data on the actual rates of such adverse effects—not be disclosed publicly. However, documents recently made public from concurrent olanzapine litigation reveal that Lilly long downplayed and kept secret research that linked use of the drug to weight gain and hyperglycemia, telling its salespeople, “Don't introduce the issue!!!” (Berenson A. Eli Lilly said to play down risk of top pill. New York Times. December 17, 2006:A1)

So there you have it. My point, if any? Gag orders protecting the guilty should not be permitted as part of any civil settlement. Prohibit it by law, and we won't have to put up with this nonsense. If civil litigation is supposed to be a mechanism for protecting the public, it will work best if it includes public airing of the relevant facts and evidence. An outcome in which a few of the people who were injured get compensated, at the cost of keeping the truth from everybody else, is not in the public interest, and it should never be allowed to happen.

And by the way, there are a lot of people who were abused by priests who will agree with that sentiment, because the same thing happened in the earliest lawsuits against the Catholic Church. The victims got money, but in return agreed to gag orders. And kids continued to be raped by priests. The public has a right to know the truth.

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