June 23, 2007
Judge sets date for first Zyprexa trial
Injury suits linked to side effects tentatively scheduled for Oct. 15
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. could face its first trial this fall in personal injury lawsuits over the its top-selling schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, a federal judge in New York said Friday.
U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn said he will try about 30 Zyprexa lawsuits at one time and set a tentative trial date of Oct. 15.
Lilly has spent more than $1 billion to settle 26,000 product-liability claims against Zyprexa. Another 900 claims were settled this month, but Lilly hasn't disclosed the amount of those settlements.
At least eight lawsuits have been filed by several states that claim Lilly failed to disclose that Zyprexa causes high blood-sugar levels, weight gain, diabetes complications and other health problems.
At a hearing Friday, Weinstein told lawyers that cases filed in the Eastern District of New York "will be tried, dismissed or settled." He said he wants to "close them out by the fall."
Nina Gussack, a lawyer for Lilly with Pepper Hamilton, said after the hearing, "It's plain that the judge wants to move the cases forward on a variety of grounds. Lilly is going to be prepared to do whatever is necessary to address his variety of requests."
Weinstein is presiding over lawsuits originally filed in state and federal courts around the country by patients who sued Lilly over Zyprexa. The drug was approved in 1996 by the Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Weinstein said he will send cases that weren't filed in New York back to the courts where they originated. The judge said about 500 cases by Zyprexa users are pending before him.
Some of the suits claim the company marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses, including treatment of Alzheimer's disease, Tourette's syndrome and autism, without warning about its risks.
Zyprexa is Lilly's top-selling drug, with sales last year of $4.36 billion.