Lilly gears up for Alaska's Zyprexa trial

It's one of the biggest civil trials ever in Alaska, but you can be sure Eli Lilly would rather have foregone the distinction. It's the case of Alaska vs. Eli Lilly, which alleges that the company not only failed to warn of antipsychotic Zyprexa's "serious health risks," including the risk of diabetes. It also systematically hid the risks and side effects of the drug, Alaska's lawyer said during opening arguments. The state wants Lilly to cover treatment costs of Medicaid patients who suffered health problems after using the med.

Eight other states have suits pending over Zyprexa, and another 1,200 plaintiff's suits are awaiting trial. Alaska's is the first state case to reach a jury, so legal eagles are keeping an eye on the case. The company has set aside $1.2 billion to settle with 31,000 claimants.

Lilly's lawyers, on the other hand, say that the state continues to use Zyprexa for schizophrenic patients and that the company always properly disclosed the drug's side effects to the FDA. About a dozen of Lilly's lawyers and legal team members flew into Anchorage for the event, and the state of Alaska's hired guns include attorneys from Houston, Minneapolis, and Charleston, S.C.

- check out the article in the Anchorage Daily News
- see the report from the New York Times

ALSO: While Lilly likes a new "mental healthcare parity" bill now under debate in Congress, the company objects to the bill's hike in Medicaid rebates to 20.1 percent from 15.1 percent. "The harsh irony is that such an action could lead to even greater disparities in Medicaid patients' future access to medications," a Lilly lobbyist said. Statement