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Drug maker played down health risks of its best-selling medication for a decade

According to hundreds of internal Eli Lilly documents and e-mail messages, the drug maker disguised the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, for a decade. Lilly executives hid evidence from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and its tendency to raise blood sugar.

The drug company’s published data showed that 30% of patients taking the drug gain 22 or more pounds after only a year on the drug. Some patients reported gaining 100 pounds or more. Sales representatives were told to play down the side effects in published data in their conversations with doctors. The drug has become Eli Lilly’s best selling product, with more than $4.2 billion in sales last year.

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