Zyprexa, the product name for Olanzapine, is Lilly's top selling drug. When it was approved by the FDA, it was labeled an "atypical" antipsychotic, a newer class of drugs without the motor side effects of the older Thorazine. Used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Zyprexa accounted for 32% of Eli Lilly's $14.6 billion annual revenue in 2005.
But did you know that Lilly made nearly $3 billion last year on their diabetic medicines Actos, Humulin and Byetta?
Yes! They sell a drug that can cause diabetes and then turn a profit on the drugs that treat the condition that they may have caused in the first place!
I was prescribed Zyprexa from 1996 until 2000. In early 2000 I was shocked to have an A1C test result of 13.9 (normal is 4-6). I have no history of diabetes in my family.
All the specialists I've interviewed and the information I've found online presents Zyprexa as a worse offender than the other atypicals such as Seroquel. My doctor since has stopped prescribing Zyprexa altogether.
The Physician's Desk Reference classifies Zyprexa as "severe" for causing weight gain and diabetes and Seroquel as "moderate". Although Thorazine has been classified as causing tardive dyskinesia, it isn't linked with diabetes and is many times less expensive than Zyprexa.
Where I think that Eli Lilly's negligence comes in is their knowing about the side effects of Zyprexa and not informing consumers (black box warning) until the FDA demanded it. And why would Lilly have any incentive to issue a warning when they had billions of dollars coming in from state medicaid scripts.
Commentary by Daniel Haszard