By LISA DEMER
In an Alaska courtroom, drug maker Eli Lilly is finally getting to defend itself against accusations that it failed to warn doctors and patients of health problems from its best-seller, Zyprexa.
The judge suggested Lilly has its work cut out for it.
Without lawsuits like the one the State of Alaska brought against Lilly, claims that drugs cause health problems “might well go unaddressed,” Anchorage Superior Court Judge Mark Rindner said from the bench this week.
The jury was out of the room. The state had just rested. Lilly asked the judge to issue an immediate verdict in its favor, a routine step at that point in a trial.
Rindner was reacting to an assertion by Lilly lawyer George Lehner that drug regulation is a matter for the federal Food and Drug Administration, not any state. Alaska’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act shouldn’t apply to drugs, Lehner told the judge.
Rindner disagreed. Evidence presented by the state over the past two weeks established that the FDA “isn’t capable of policing this matter,” he said.
Jurors have been hearing testimony since March 6 about Zyprexa, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The state is suing for hundreds of millions of dollars to cover costs to Medicaid for treating what it says are Zyprexa-related health problems including weight gain, high blood sugar and diabetes…