By Lisa Demer
When health officials in Japan learned of serious health complications from the schizophrenia drug Zyprexa back in 2002, they forced the drug maker to put a strong warning on its label: Do not give to patients with diabetes.
Sales took an immediate dive. So did the reputation of manufacturer Eli Lilly and Co., and not just with the Japanese health ministry, jurors were told Thursday in Anchorage Superior Court.
“Market research shows we have also lost quite a bit of credibility with prescribers and opinion leaders, basically because they felt left in the dark with what they perceived as the late sharing of safety information,” two Lilly executives wrote that year in a memo to John Lechleiter, the company’s chief operating officer and president.
The controversy in Japan over the drug was front and center in Anchorage Superior Court on Thursday.
The state of Alaska is suing Lilly over Zyprexa, accusing it of failing to warn doctors about dangerous side effects. The state wants Lilly to pay hundreds of millions to recover costs to Medicaid for treating what it says are Zyprexa-caused health problems, including diabetes…