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Prescribed to treat illnesses ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia, Zyprexa and other atypical antipsychotic medications were associated with reported cases of diabetes among users. The most severe cases resulted in coma or death.

Kline & Specter handled Zyprexa cases, which resulted in manufucaturer Eli Lilly announcing in 2005 that it had agreed to settle an estimated 8,000 lawsuits and that it would establish a fund of up to $690 million to settle claims. (See the news release about the settlement.)

It had been alleged, in a December 2006 New York Times article, that Eli Lilly "engaged in a decade-ling effort to play down the risks of Zyprexa" by keeping important information from doctors about the drug's links to obesity and diabetes. (See article.)

In an unrelated side effect, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had previously issued a Public Health Advisory noting that using atypical antipsychotics to treat behavioral disorders in elderly patients with dementia was associated with increased mortality due in most cases to heart failure or infections.

The FDA advisory pertained to Zyprexa; Abilify, made by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Risperdal, Janssen; Seroquel, AstraZeneca; Clozaril, Novartis; and Geodon, Pfizer.

The FDA in September 2003 required that manufacturers add a warning statement on labels noting that hyperglycemia or elevated blood sugar levels have been reported in patients while taking atypical antipsychotic medications.

Zyprexa, introduced in 1996, was the largest-selling drug among the class of antipsychotics, with more than 17 million people worldwide having used Zyprexa. The drug was first approved for use in the United States for the treatment of schizophrenia, a mental illness in which patients suffer hallucinations, delusions and withdrawal. Four years later Zyprexa was approved for short-term treatment of acute manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.

In some cases, hyperglycemia has reportedly resolved when the medication was discontinued, but some patients had to continue with anti-diabetic treatment even after they stopped taking the antipsychotic medication.

Zyprexa and Other Antipsychotic Medication News