Little med-mal risk, psych drug maker says

With its best-selling antipsychotic drug Zyprexa the target of thousands of legal claims, Eli Lilly and Co., based in Indianapolis, is trying to reassure psychiatrists they face little malpractice risk for prescribing such drugs.

The company has hired a medical education company, Professional Risk Management Services of Arlington, VA, to help spread the message that psychiatrists can manage risk, according to a recent statement from both companies. Eli Lilly recently mailed a 14-page brochure to psychiatrists across the United States with the message that the best way to avoid malpractice claims is to provide good care and document it carefully. "Nothing will stop a malpractice lawyer dead in his or her tracks quicker than a well-documented chart," the brochure says. The mailing also points out that psychiatrists have among the lowest number of malpractice claims of all medical specialists and most claims against them are closed without payment.

The drug maker has paid more than $1 billion to settle tens of thousands of patient claims that it hid or downplayed the side effects of Zyprexa, according to the company. Many patients said the drug gave them diabetes symptoms, including weight gain and higher blood sugar levels. Lilly has consistently denied any culpability.

More information about Zyprexa is available at the Eli Lilly web site www.zyprexa.com.