Lilly Issues Warning on Zyprexa in Use in Elderly with Dementia

Schizophrenia Update, February 2004

Lilly Issues Warning on Zyprexa in Use in Elderly with Dementia

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that: "Zyprexa, a blockbuster antipsychotic medicine often used to calm elderly people with dementia, can increase the risk of strokes and death in those patients, according to a letter sent to physicians by Eli Lilly & Co. This warning echo's an announcement by Johnson & Johnson's on its own schizophrenia drug, Risperdal, back in April' 2003.

The Lilly letter said there was a "significantly higher" incidence of stroke among these patients, but didn't quantify it any further. The letter also said elderly patients in the Zyprexa group of the studies had a higher incidence of deaths of all types, 3.5% compared with 1.5% in the placebo group."

A Lilly spokesman stated that the use of Zyprexa in elderly with dementia accounts for a small portion, about 2%, of total sales. Zyprexa sales were $4.3 billion last year, or almost a third of the Indianapolis drug maker's annual sales.

A recent report in Reuters mentioned that in the UK a safety committee review "found there was around a three-fold increase in the risk of stroke when the medicines were used in this patient group, the Department of Health said in a statement.

The health department said approximately 30,000 patients aged 65 and over received Risperdal and 9,000 Zyprexa in the UK last year for the treatment of dementia."



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