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   Home      The Pharmaceutical Industry      Zyprexa, for Example

This is  a good example of how difficult it is to decide if a drug should be on the market

Zyprexa asks the question "how many side effects can a great drug have and still be valuable?"  Zyprexa, by all accounts, is  a premier psychoactive drug-if you have any of a number of mental illnesses (bipolar disorder, psychosis, etc.), Zyprexa will probably help you out (for about $16 per tablet).

The FDA warns that Zyprexa may cause diabetes-not surprising since, a substantial number of patients gain 30 pounds or more during Zyprexa therapy.  That’s like having a huge Thanksgiving turkey wrapped around your belly all the time.  Doesn’t sound particularly healthy, does it? “Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death”.   That doesn't sound healthy, either. And as an additional bonus, it doesn't  help the agitation in the elderly that it is prescribed for. Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Zyprexa,  will pay at least $1.2 billion to 28,500 people who claim they were injured by the use of the  drug. So why is Zyprexa on the market?

Imagine having a severe mental illness where there is no escape from 24-hour a day anxiety that is so severe that you don't know if you can survive another minute of it and depression so fatigue-inducing that you spend your whole day in bed; for entertainment, the outlets are talking to you and you may be seeing things that terrify you.  And really, that's just a short list of  symptoms.  On your mental ethical scale, weigh the Hell of mental illness versus the risks associated with taking Zyprexa and living a more normal life-which one would you choose?  There is no doubt there is a case for asserting Eli Lilly didn't represent the risks of Zyprexa adequately, but there are also no doubt there are people living a much-improved life because Zyprexa is on the market.  Drug development and approval is a world of shades of gray. I can't say first hand, but my hunch is that when Zyprexa was first put into drug development and its considerable risks not yet discovered, it was understandably thought of as a wonder drug-and as I've described in previous pages, the luster and enthusiasm for the therapeutic effects of the drug wouldn't have faded until it was a 5 billion dollar a year drug. and then, it was too late.




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