Barristers & Solicitors  -  James M. Poyner, Kenneth J. Baxter, Patrick J. Poyner

For Immediate Release

Eli Lilly must treat Canadian Zyprexa victims the same as Americans

(NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C., 13th June, 2005) - Drug giant Eli Lilly and Company announced last week a $US 690 million offer to settle 5,000 claims emanating from the negative side-effects of Zyprexa, a drug prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia and conditions such as bipolar disorder.

A class action suit on behalf of those who have suffered negative consequences from Zyprexa, was filed last January in the Supreme Court of British Columbia by the law firm of Poyner Baxter of North Vancouver. The B.C. Zyprexa action alleges a direct link between Zyprexa and diabetes. The Plaintiff, a resident of a home for mentally disabled people, alleges that his use of Zyprexa resulted in diabetes. Options available to this patient for the treatment of the original mental condition are now egregiously limited because of the Zyprexa-induced diabetes. Poyner Baxter will be appearing June 22 before Mr. Justice Stephen F. Kelleher to discuss management of this case in B.C.

But last week, Zyprexa was in the world health headlines, as Eli Lilly announced that $US 690 million would be offered to U.S. claimants. In making the announcement June 9, the company's chairman and chief executive officer Sidney Taurel, said: "While we believe the claims are without merit, we took this difficult step because we believe it is in the best interest of the company, the patients who depend on this medication, and their doctors. Our decision to resolve these claims does not change the fact that Zyprexa has and will continue to improve the lives of millions of patients around the world who are suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder."

There were 6 million prescriptions for Zyprexa in Canada over the 12 months ending October 2003. Total sales in Canada were valued at $223 million in 2002 and over $4 billion worldwide in 2003. Zyprexa has been associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, hyperglycemia, pancreatitis, ketoacidosis and other injuries. In an October 16, 2003 press release, Eli Lilly disclosed a Health Canada order directing it to include updated information on hyperglycemia and diabetes on the labels of their antipsychotics.

The Poyner Baxter statement of claim reads, in part:

“Eli Lilly purposefully minimized and understated health hazards and risks associated with Zyprexa. Eli Lilly, through literature and oral statements, deceived potential users of Zyprexa and their physicians by relaying positive information, including testimonials from satisfied users and by manipulating statistics to suggest widespread acceptability, while downplaying the known adverse and serious health effects of the drug. Eli Lilly falsely and fraudulently withheld relevant information from potential users of Zyprexa.“

In January, after filing the British Columbia action, lawyer Jim Poyner said: “Once again we have more evidence of what is becoming epidemic, and that is the pharmaceutical industry’s irresponsible promotional zeal, unashamedly downplaying or ignoring evidence that might be injurious to their marketing goals.”

His partner Ken Baxter said today that the United States settlement offer "should sound the alarm in Canada, not just among those who have suffered unnecessarily as a result of this drug, but health regulators who seem unconcerned that Big Pharma caters first to Americans, ingoring or delaying their responsibilities to Canadians."

The Canadian Zyprexa class actions are currently proceeding through the courts in British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario, and a national class is being sought. There is a coalition of lawyers working across the country to ensure Canadian recipients of Zyprexa are treated fairly. Michael J. Peerless, a partner with the law firm Siskind, Cromarty, Ivey & Dowler LLP in London, Ontario, in a news release last week, said: "the American and Canadian litigation contexts with respect to the Zyprexa litigation are somewhat different, in that in the United States, these cases were pursued on an individual basis, and there was no class settlement. It is our view that the Zyprexa litigation is perfectly suited for class treatment in Canada. . . .the national team of lawyers is working very effectively together and is committed to ensuring the best possible result for the class."

Under B.C.’s “Class Proceedings Act,” a suit is brought in the name of one individual as “representative of a class.” This action cites the case of one person, but if certified by the Supreme Court, it will represent and potentially benefit everyone in the province who has suffered the negative consequences of using Zyprexa.

The complete text of the Statement of Claim can be found at www.poynerbaxter.com 

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Poyner Baxter, Suite 408 - 145 Chadwick Court
North Vancouver, B.C. V7M 3K1
Telephone: 604.988 6321 Fax: 604.988 3632
e-mail: classaction@poynerbaxter.com
web site: www.poynerbaxter.com

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