Symptoms of an overdose include tachycardia, agitation, dysarthria, decreased consciousness and coma. Death has been reported after an acute overdose of 450 mg, but also survival after an acute overdose of 1500 mg.
There is no specific, known antidote for olanzapine overdose, and even physicians are recommended to call a certified poison control center for information on the treatment of such a case. "Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, according to hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers", most of which had been disclosed as the result of lawsuits by individuals who had taken the drug against the company though some had been stolen. Temporary injunctions required those who had been received the documents to return them and that the documents be removed from websites which had posted them. In his final judgement, Judge Weinstein issued a permanent judgement against further dissemination of the documents and requiring their return by a number of parties named by Lilly. In another document, dated October 9, 2000, senior Lilly research physician Robert Baker noted that an academic advisory board he belonged to was "quite impressed by the magnitude of weight gain on olanzapine and implications for glucose."
In 2002, British and Japanese regulatory agencies warned that Zyprexa may be linked to diabetes, but even after the FDA issued a similar warning in 2003, Lilly did not publicly disclose their own findings.
Eli Lilly agreed on January 4, 2007 to pay up to $500 million to settle 18,000 lawsuits from people who claimed they developed diabetes or other diseases after taking Zyprexa. Including earlier settlements over Zyprexa, Lilly has now agreed to pay at least $1.2 billion to 28,500 people who claim they were injured by the drug. At least 1,200 suits are still pending, the company said. About 20 million people worldwide have taken Zyprexa since its introduction in 1996. On January 8, 2007, Judge Jack B. Weinstein refused the Electronic Frontier Foundation's motion to stay his order.
On January 15, 2009 Eli Lilly plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegally marketing Zyprexa for off-label use, and agreed to pay $1.4 billion. Although Lilly had evidence that it is not effective for dementia, Zyprexa was marketed for elderly Alzheimer's patients. The drug carries an F.D.A. warning that it increases the risk of death in older patients with dementia-related psychosis.
In order to make up for the costs for settling the lawsuits and shrinking sales figures for Zyprexa in the U.S.A. the company increased the prices for this medication in Germany in May 2007 by 18 percent.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011