Lilly settles 900 more Zyprexa claims

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Eli Lilly reduced the number of outstanding Zyprexa cases by 900, as its product liability spending for the drug shot past $1.2 billion.

The 900 claims include four cases set to go to trial next month. Many came from patients who said the company hid the risks of weight gain and diabetes associated with Zyprexa, the firm’s top-selling drug.

The company said the cost of the settlements would not be material to earnings, and it continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Lilly still faces about 750 product-liability claims related to the antipsychotic, and more states could sue. States with cases include Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana, Utah and West Virginia, all of which seek to recoup Medicaid money spent caring for Zyprexa patients.

Earlier this year Lilly paid up to $500 million to settle claims from about 18,000 Zyprexa cases, just months before the first cases were set to go to trial. That followed the $700 million it paid in 2005 to resolve more than 8,000 claims.

Zyprexa had 2006 sales of $4.36 billion. The drug accounts for more than a quarter of Lilly’s revenue and a larger share of its profit.

In 2003 the FDA added a warning to antipsychotic drugs, including Zyprexa, about their tendency to cause high blood sugar. Many of the suits claimed that the product insert, prior to the September 2003 change, did not adequately warn of high blood-sugar risk and diabetes.

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