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Toxic Drugs and Their Priceless Toll on Lives Settlements Can't Repay

Just as Eli Lilly announced another round of settlements -- more than 18,000 totaling close to $500 million -- connected to its best-selling anti-psychotic medication Zyprexa, an interesting feature in yesterday's New York Times described the human toll of those side effects: A priceless life lost, thanks to a toxic, useless drug.

During the five years the bipolar patient profiled in the New York Times piece took Zyprexa, he gained some 80 pounds and smoked heavily, factors that likely contributed to his death due to heart disease at the too-young age of 41.

With the man's weight ballooning and his blood pressure numbers rising, a doctor made the patient quit smoking late last year, a huge mistake because doing so causes the body to metabolize the drug more slowly. In other words, the patient's daily dose of Zyprexa at that same time probably should've been reduced. Instead, a psychiatrist upped his daily dosage from 20 to a too high 30 milligrams.

You may be surprised to learn the patient's family never filed a lawsuit and won't receive any settlements from Eli Lilly. His mother isn't sure if Zyprexa was the main reason her son died, but she remains angry, nonetheless, Lilly hid the risks via their usual, claiming their drug was a better, safer option than older ones, although recent studies have shown otherwise.

Heart-rending stories like these are a sad reminder far too many patients and doctors remain addicted to toxic, dangerous drugs to help them "cure" a health issue, instead of treating the true problem through safer means, my vision for the future of health care.

Yahoo News January 4, 2007

New York Times January 4, 2006 Registration Required

The Ledger January 4, 2006