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NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co LLY.N on Wednesday said it agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit by the state of Alaska accusing it of concealing possible side effects from Zyprexa, its widely used schizophrenia medicine.
The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing, and will ensure that Alaska is treated as well as any other state that resolves similar claims, according to a joint statement from Lilly and Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg.
Alaska had accused Indianapolis-based Lilly in a March 2006 lawsuit of failing to properly warn the state and healthcare providers that using Zyprexa could result in weight gain, high blood sugar and diabetes. A trial had begun on March 3 in the Superior Court in Anchorage.
Zyprexa is Lilly’s largest product by far, with sales of $4.76 billion in 2007, including $2.24 billion in the United States. Lilly said Zyprexa has been prescribed for more than 23 million people since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it in 1996.
In a statement, Lilly general counsel Robert Armitage said the company had a “strong defense”, but that settling was in the best interests of all parties.
Colberg called the settlement a “good result” for Alaska.
On March 11 Connecticut also sued Lilly over Zyprexa, accusing it of concealing side effects and promoting it for unapproved uses, including the treatment of children.
Lilly said Zyprexa was not approved for people under 18.
Last month, the FDA rejected a long-acting injectable form of Zyprexa, saying it needed to better understand the excessive sedation seen in 1 percent of patients during clinical trials.
Lilly shares closed Tuesday at $50.17 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, editing by Will Waterman)
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