More on Zyprexa

More on Zyprexa, folks. It just isn't going to go away.

NYT reporter Alex Berenson, continuing his stellar coverage of Zyprexa's risks and exposing Eli Lilly's deceitfulness, has uncovered a recent case of a man who died using Zyprexa. John Eric Kauffman has a complicated medical, which might have led to his death. However, he was a mentally ill patient on Zyprexa and as a result of his death, Eli Lilly must report his death to "federal regulators," which it is required to do under law. However, despite his heavy smoking, he gained 80 lbs. on Zyprexa – which possibly led him to develop heart disease and become sedentary after being active most of his life. His mother says that Zyprexa did help him stave off the psychosis of his bipolar disorder, but his mother wonders if the risk was worth the early death of her son. Kauffman at 41 years old weighed 259 lbs. at the time of his death. He was 5' 10".

Which leads to the question of whether mentally ill patients should choose between taking Zyprexa – which CAN help mentally ill people – and dealing with its significant side effects or risk not taking Zyprexa when other medications won't work. In light of all this, should a doctor even continue to prescribe Zyprexa after seeing its awful side effects but left with no other choice (given that a patient is treatment-resistant to most medications)?

Eli Lilly's response to this continues to be appalling:

"Zyprexa is a lifesaving drug and it has helped millions of people worldwide with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder regain control of their lives."

It may be true that it helps people "regain control of their lives," but as for being a lifesaving drug – that's unlikely. Zyprexa has been shown to induce diabetes, obesity, hyperglycemia, and now, heart disease and death. I commend Australian regulators for looking into the details of Lilly downplaying the risk of Zyprexa and hope that they will make the information public – a different course than what the U.S. federal government seems to be taking. Lilly's 2006 settlement with patients who developed diabetes and other health problems is pure evidence that despite their constant denials, Lilly's hiding something in an effort to make profits.

My prediction: The FDA will eventually slap a black-box warning on Zyprexa, warning patients that it makes them more prone to diabetes and its other ill health effects.

5 thoughts on “More on Zyprexa

  1. Read with interest your thoughts on Zyprexa.
    For me it is a ‘break the glass in an emergecny’ option. Somthing that my shrink prescribes me when things have really taken a nose dive. Like now, my dad terminally ill.
    But every time i take Zyprexa, weight gain is swift and obvious… as well as other mood altering factors. It helps me get out of the ditch, but once that has happened I take myself of them. Which my shrink agrees is the right course of action for me.
    Luckily it’s pretty quick acting, at least for me. But I am not happy taking the drug, its insanly expensive as well.
    INterestingly, my shrink often remarks this would be his medication of choice if he ever suffered bipolar etc. I have asked him about this and his reasons seem quite valid and sincere. I trust him, but I do treat Zyprexa with caution.
    Warmest wishs

  2. Many of the longtime zyprexa users like myself who developed diabetes were given it ‘off label’ because it was being pushed on my doctor by Lilly drug reps.
    The now notorious Zyprexa diabetes connection is elaborated at thousands of pages on line.
    My own local clinic and clinics everywhere have stopped dispensing Zyprexa except as a PRN for acute cases.
    Eli Lilly’s zyprexa gravy train will stall soon enough.
    I am Daniel Haszard 4 year zyprexa user who got diabetes from it.
    Lilly made a mistake motivated by a desire for profits (greed) now it’s time to face the music.Lilly occasionally comes out with theses periodic media PR’s on compensation ($27,000 per person?) then nothing further happens and you wonder why victims get indignant.

    Daniel Haszard

  3. I’m sorry that people have developed diabetes. But have ever seen a psychotic person off of their meds? Yes, they may be alive but truly aren’t living the same life as you or I. I have been a psychotherapist for several years and I am considering a career shift to becoming a drug rep. Not because I want to fatten the pockets of drug companies, but because I believe in these medications. I have had to hospitalize dozens of individuals over the years for believing that demons or the CIA or out to get them. One girl wouldn’t eat for weeks because she was certain her food was being poisoined. There are ways to take these medications without gaining weight, albeit extremely difficult. If I were not able to fight the increased hunger, eat healthier, or increase my exercise, I would rather gain 50 pounds then constantly hear voices in my head.

  4. Hi Kelly,
    Weighing the options are difficult. My father was schizophrenic and yes, it would have been nicer to have a chubby father who was “in his right mind” than a father who wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t take his meds and as a result, continued to hear voices and thought people were after him.
    As for your career shift, I cannot advise you as to what you should do. Some drug companies may be honest and have full disclosure. Eli Lilly’s drug rep practices seem sneaky and I don’t like the idea that they have drug reps pushing off-label uses to primary care physicians. I don’t doubt that drugs can help people; I’m on Lamictal and used to take Effexor – both have worked for me. (I’m off the Effexor now because it can induce mania; I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.) I had a female friend who was a drug rep and ended up wining and dining doctors and sometimes had to wear blouses that ran a little low to get male doctors to prescribe more of the drug she sold. My female friend had a quota to meet and sometimes, she needed to stoop to low levels to get the job done. She stopped doing it eventually because she felt like she had to compromise her integrity too often.
    Is it possible that as a psychotherapist you could be helping more people than if you were a drug rep? Why limit yourself to a field that would only target a specific population struggling with mental illness rather than helping people with a wide range of mental illnesses?
    I’m not trying to be combative; I’m asking these questions in pure honesty. Again, I am not telling you what you should do.
    As for the risk of developing diabetes while taking Zyprexa, it’s a gamble. It’s trading one problem in for another: sure, the voices are gone, but now it’s replaced with constant blood sugar monitoring and insulin shots. If your blood sugar level drops too low, you wind up in the hospital. A patient must decide whether taking Zyprexa is worth the risk of hyperglycemia or diabetes, even though it alleviates symptoms of psychosis. And the possibility of a slow metabolism inducing tremendous weight gain – to the point of obesity – isn’t a cakewalk either. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But it’s coming to the point where a difficult decision needs to be made on whether a patient chooses a physical illness rather than a mental illness.
    My other issue with Eli Lilly is that they fully disclose the information that has now been leaked about Zyprexa. I’m not suggesting Zyprexa be taken off the market. I just want the FDA to slap a warning on the medication that informs patients of the unusually high medical problems that Zyprexa can induce. This won’t stop people from taking Zyprexa, however, they’ll be making a better educated decision when deciding to use it for treatment.
    I suffer more from the depressive part of my manic depression and obesity would just plunge me even further into depression. Some people choose to suffer from mental illness rather than a physical ailment (namely bipolar IIs who have hypomanic symptoms). Since I have a severe mental illness, I can say with all honesty that physical illnesses are a walk in the park compared to the torment that goes on in my mind. But not everyone sees it that way and they should have the option to make that kind of decision.
    I apologize for the long response to your statement. I’m passionate about a “patient’s right to know.”

  5. Hi Graham,
    I appreciate your smart approach to Zyprexa. I think Zyprexa should be prescribed as a last resort; when all other options fail, try Zyprexa.
    I think it can be good for short-term use but long-term use seems to have negative physical effects than can outweigh the positive mental effects.
    I’m curious to know your doctor’s reason for Zyprexa being his drug of choice for bipolar. I can understand the answer better if a person suffers from bipolar with psychosis.

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