Lilly prevails in Zyprexa patient lawsuit

Eli Lilly ($LLY) won its first trial over Zyprexa's health risks, as a California jury found the company adequately warned patients and doctors about its side effects. It was one of about 40 outstanding patient lawsuits, which allege Lilly hid the antipsychotic drug's risks and seek to hold the company accountable for Zyprexa users' illnesses or death.

The Los Angeles case was filed by the family of a 20-year-old student who died while taking Zyprexa. Cody Tadai's family claimed that Lilly kept quiet about Zyprexa safety risks, including the drug's links to weight gain and diabetes, while touting it not only for FDA-approved uses, but for off-label use as well. Lilly trained its sales force to counteract questions about Zyprexa users' risk of weight gain or diabetes, the suit claimed.

For its part, Lilly argued that Tadai had a family history of diabetes and said that Zyprexa didn't trigger his disease. The company's lawyers also contended that Lilly had properly warned the medical community and patients about the drug's risks. "We are pleased the jury recognized that Lilly met its duty to warn about the risks of Zyprexa," a company spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

Most of the Zyprexa patient lawsuits fell under a $1.2 billion settlement deal--some 31,000 of them, in fact--but 110 patients' claims are still pending in about 40 lawsuits, the news service reports. Lilly not only agreed to pay that billion-plus to settle patient lawsuits, but settled federal off-label marketing probes for $1.42 billion and state claims for $260 million.

- read the story from Bloomberg