Eli Lilly and Co. has agreed to settle most of the remaining liability claims against its Zyprexa schizophrenia drug, the Indianapolis drug maker announced this morning. The agreement covers about 18,000 people.
Lilly did not disclose the cost of the settlement, but said the total amount is “substantially less” than the $700 million it paid to settle 8,000 claims in June 2005. A 2006 fourth-quarter charge for the settlement is not expected to top $500 million, it said.
The company said that, while it believes the claims are unmerited, it was best to break loose of the litigation in order to move forward.
The agreement covered 14 groups of plaintiffs’ firms, Lilly said, and was modeled on a master agreement used for the 2005 settlement.
The plaintiffs claimed the drug caused them to gain weight and ultimately develop diabetes.
Late last month, a federal appeals court sided with a lower court ruling upholding Lilly's Zyprexa patent, which expires in 2011. In 2001, Lilly accused Miami-based Zenith Goldline Pharmaceuticals Inc. of infringing the patent.
The ruling paved the way for Lilly to continue reaping the benefit of Zyprexa sales, which topped $3.2 billion through the first three quarters of last year. Zyprexa sales easily surpass the $2.7 billion peak sales figure for Prozac, a former best-selling drug.