Judge Jack Weinstein who presided over this massive case, capped legal fees to attorenys at 35%–which is more than $200 million.
The settlement covered about 75 percent of the known Zyprexa claims against Lilly. But hundreds more have flooded into federal and state courts.
Lilly has set aside another $300 million to cover potential liability from the unsettled cases, which it has said it will fight in court.
The first trial from the unsettled claims could happen next year. Lilly employees are being deposed by trial lawyers, and the company has turned
over more than 10 million pages of documents sought by plaintiffs’ attorneys, Woodin said.
Eli Lilly ‘s $700 million settlement confirms confirms that Zyprexa, its best selling drug, induces diabetes–an irreversible debilitating disease.
The real question is: Why is a drug that produces a life-shortening disease allowed to be advertised and widely marketed?
Why is its use not restricted for proven benefit in life-threatening conditions?
Or, is U.S. heathcare policy to promote increased sales for Eli Lilly’s diabetes treatment products?
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Zyprexa users await settlement payments 8,362 to receive checks related to side effects
By Jeff Swiatek
August 10, 2006
More than 8,000 users of Eli Lilly and Co.’s top-selling drug should find
out this month how much their pain and suffering is worth.
Notices of injury payouts to Zyprexa users, in Lilly’s largest-ever
liability settlement, will be mailed as early as this week to those who
hoped to enjoy the pharmaceutical benefits of the antipsychotic drug but
ended up with diabetic side effects.
The long-awaited award notices will be followed within weeks or months by
checks from a $700 million fund Lilly has set up to settle claims from 8,362
people. Many are vulnerable patients with schizophrenia and manic
depression, the two main conditions Zyprexa treats.
The payouts, ranging from a minimum fixed amount of $5,000 to well over
$100,000 a person, amount to a windfall for patients, most of whom are poor
enough to qualify for federal Medicaid assistance.
"The awards are significant," said Chris Seeger, a New York attorney who
serves on a steering committee that represents plaintiffs. Payouts of more
than $100,000 will be common, he said, with fewer than 1,000 people getting
the $5,000 base award for those who suffered the least harm from the drug.
"People are anxious to get paid," said Seeger, who helped hammer out the
agreement with Lilly in 2005. "They’re very anxious to receive their
Deborah F. Wagers of Shelby County, who is part of the settlement, said she
hopes to collect on a claim of $112,500. She said she was prescribed Zyprexa
for depression from about 2001 to 2003, and she blames the drug for causing
her to become diabetic. She said she injects herself with insulin five times
a day now and has had difficulty finding a job. Unemployed, she previously
worked as a gas station cashier.
"I think they should be paying it out," she said of Lilly’s mass settlement.
"I’m the one who has to suffer."
Wagers said she hopes to use her check to pay more than $10,000 in medical
The settlement by the Indianapolis drug maker was part of an effort to head
off a mass class- action lawsuit against it by trial lawyers around the
country who signed on thousands of clients alleging they gained weight from
Zyprexa or acquired blood-sugar problems. Many of the lawsuits were
consolidated in one federal court in New York, where Judge Jack B. Weinstein
has overseen the settlement.
At times, the elderly judge has chastised plaintiffs’ attorneys for being
slow in getting payments to their clients who are in the settlement. In
June, Weinstein called the delay in processing claims "intolerable" and
demanded the work be speeded up, saying, "I want to terminate this case. I
have my 86th birthday Aug. 10."
The lawyers did pick up their pace, reaching the agreed-upon threshold of
processing 90 percent of the filed claims by late July, said Seeger. Lilly
could have rejected the settlement if the attorneys didn’t get enough of
their clients to take the money and drop their legal cases.
With more than 8,000 claims now processed, "the deal is a final deal. No
backing out by either side," Seeger said last week.
The only imminent holdup to paying out the money: A few state governments,
including Ohio, want a share of the settlement money to reimburse them for
Medicaid payments the states made for patients, to cover diabetes-related
expenses linked to their use of Zyprexa.
"A number of states are giving us a hard time over . . . lien amounts,"
Seeger said. "We’ll be forced to hold back (payments) in states where we
can’t reach agreement."
Indiana hasn’t objected to payments to its residents, so checks likely won’t
be held up to Indiana residents, he said.
Tom Beaury, an informational technology worker from Lake Luzerne, N.Y., said
he is awaiting payment on a claim topping $200,000. He said he became
disabled partly because of diabetes-related symptoms linked to using Zyprexa
six years ago.
Beaury, 35, said he will use his check, in part, to pay off $30,000 in
medical bills he has run up since his Zyprexa-related health problems began.
He is not bitter toward Lilly.
"I don’t know how to comment on Zyprexa. Was it a mistake? Was it gross
negligence? They had a mishap, and it affected me. But I think they’ve done
a lot of people good."
Lilly spokesman Phil Belt said plaintiffs’ attorneys are handling the
"We are pleased to hear that the process is moving forward," he said.
The settlement will produce a windfall for attorneys, too, although Judge
Weinstein has capped legal fees at 35 percent for most claims paid. Still,
that will amount to more than $200 million going to attorneys.
The settlement covered about 75 percent of the known Zyprexa claims against
Lilly. But hundreds more have flooded into federal and state courts.
"The money attracts more cases," said Peter H. Woodin, a New York attorney
appointed by the court as a special master to handle claims.
Lilly has set aside another $300 million to cover potential liability from
the unsettled cases, which it has said it will fight in court.
The first trial from the unsettled claims could happen next year. Lilly
employees are being deposed by trial lawyers, and the company has turned
over more than 10 million pages of documents sought by plaintiffs’
attorneys, Woodin said.
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