invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

eli lilly in hot water December 18, 2006

i haven’t felt like blogging recently. just so much going on between my sister’s surgery and christmas shopping for families in need. but, when my mailbox is flooded with headlines like these from the new york times, eli lilly said to play down risk of top pill or lilly encouraged off – label zyprexa use or drug files show maker promoted unapproved use . well, i can’t sit quiet.

The drug maker Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, according to hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers. The documents, given to The Times by a lawyer representing mentally ill patients, show that Lilly executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar — both known risk factors for diabetes. Lilly’s own published data, which it told its sales representatives to play down in conversations with doctors, has shown that 30 percent of patients taking Zyprexa gain 22 pounds or more after a year on the drug, and some patients have reported gaining 100 pounds or more. But Lilly was concerned that Zyprexa’s sales would be hurt if the company was more forthright about the fact that the drug might cause unmanageable weight gain or diabetes, according to the documents, which cover the period 1995 to 2004.

Zyprexa has become by far Lilly’s best-selling product, with sales of $4.2 billion last year, when about two million people worldwide took the drug.In 2000, a group of diabetes doctors that Lilly had retained to consider potential links between Zyprexa and diabetes warned the company that “unless we come clean on this, it could get much more serious than we might anticipate,” according to an e-mail message from one Lilly manager to another.

And in that year and 2001, the documents show, Lilly’s own marketing research found that psychiatrists were consistently saying that many more of their patients developed high blood sugar or diabetes while taking Zyprexa than other antipsychotic drugs.

The documents were collected as part of lawsuits on behalf of mentally ill patients against the company. Last year, Lilly agreed to pay $750 million to settle suits by 8,000 people who claimed they developed diabetes or other medical problems after taking zyprexa. Thousands more suits against the company are pending.

none of this surprises me. i’m happy someone is finally reporting it. i’m happy to see someone standing up for these patients and calling out the pharma companies. but my problem is this, why are doctors believing the crap pharma reps are whispering in their ears???

doctor: a qualified practitioner of medicine; a physician.
psychiatrist: a medical practitioner specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.

since when did doctors decide to just “show up and prescribe.” what happened to caring about the patients and their health. it’s well known pharmaceuticals companies recruit cheerleaders to pimp their drugs. you can read one article here. take ms. napier for example. she was a star cheerleader on the national-champion university of kentucky squad, which has been a springboard for many careers in pharmaceutical sales. she now plies doctors’ offices selling the antacid prevacid for tap pharmaceutical products. ms. napier says the skills she honed performing for thousands of fans helped land her job. “i would think, essentially, that cheerleaders make good sales people,” she said.

if this isn’t a red flag for doctors, then i don’t know what is. well, maybe the statistics and the studies showing that, um, antipysychotics are linked to diabetes. they have horrific side effects and should be used as a last result or in a dire situation. they should not be used to treat bipolar or depression or anxiety. but instead be used to treat psychotic disorders. since when does depression=psychosis? one doesn’t need a medical degree for this to make sense. but having one and ignoring these facts is gravely unethical. it’s time we hold the doctors responsible for prescribing drugs like zyprexa or seroquel to patients that, like in my case, have a family history of diabetes. it’s not right. they can’t sit back and believe everything they hear from the pharma reps. do the research. read the studies. listen to your patients. that’s what they’re getting paid to do. we are living in a time of the quickie diagnosis and try this pill or this pill, with little thought or concern behind it. it’s frightening and i’m sick of it.

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