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Eli Lilly: Pushing Drug Despite Warnings?

Monday, 18 Dec 2006 | 9:49 AM ET

Big pharma company Eli Lilly is coming under fire. CNBC's Pharmaceuticals Reporter Mike Huckman had the late breaking details on this morning’s “Squawk Box.” Huckman reported that

Eli Lilly said sales of its top selling drug Zyprexa would be “stable” next year (the drug is used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder).

But this morning--investors are skeptical about that forecast in the wake of back to back front page stories in the New York Times.

The Times reports that some patients have put on more than a hundred pounds from use of the drug. A plaintiffs' lawyer gave the times internal Lilly documents and emails suggesting the company tried to downplay those side effects.

Eli Lilly's Zyprexa Issues
Eli Lilly may have downplayed the risk of its top-selling schizophrenia drug - Zyprexa. Mike Huckman, CNBC Pharmaceuticals Reporter, and Erin Burnett discuss the details.

Today the Times reports on marketing documents that indicate Lilly pushed use of the drug on elderly people with dementia--but was unapproved to do so.

Over the past few years--use of Zyprexa stopped growing as fast as it had been--because of lingering concerns over side effects like weight gain and diabetes.

Lilly says in a press release the emails and documents have been taken out of context..."these leaked documents do not accurately portray Lilly's conduct."

The threat to the Zyprexa franchise is pressuring Lilly shares ahead of the open this morning.

Analysts estimate Zyprexa is responsible for 1/3 to ½ of Lilly's profits.
Separately, Lilly is raising its bid for Icos, set for a shareholder vote tomorrow, by two bucks to 34 dollars a share.

Less than two weeks ago Lilly CEO Sydney Taurel told Huckman he wasn't budging on the Icos price - that he considered it a full and fair offer.

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