CITY NEWS SERVICE
Testifying in the trial of a product liability lawsuit against drug-maker Eli Lilly and Co., a woman who alleges her 20-year-old son died from taking a prescription drug said Wednesday that the young man’s doctor believed the medication was helping him deal with his mental health issues.
Eiko Tadai of Gardena said her son, Cody, took Zyprexa, which is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She said it was prescribed to him by Dr. Koichi Ishikawa, a neurologist who practices in Little Tokyo.
“The doctor said Zyprexa was the best medicine for this type of problem,” she said.
The suit filed in October 2007 by Tadai and her former husband, Randy Tadai, alleges that Eli Lilly knew patients taking Zyprexa had an increased risk of developing potentially life-threatening conditions, including weight gain, diabetes and hyperglycemia, but led doctors to believe the side-effects were no worse than any other drug.
The Tadais allege that after their son died, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required Eli Lilly to change the Zyprexa warning label to include language warning physicians that the drug has a greater association with increased blood glucose levels, which causes diabetes.
Cody Tadai was prescribed Zyprexa in October 2003 and took the drug until he died in March 2007 of diabetes-related complications. His parents maintain that Ishikawa would have not have given Zyprexa to him had current warning information regarding potential side effects been in place at the time.
Eli Lilly attorneys deny the young man’s death was caused by Zyprexa and maintain that the company did not misrepresent the drug’s potential side-effects to those in the medical community.
Jurors were shown photos of Cody Tadai both before and after he gained about 30 pounds, allegedly from taking the drug.
His mother said she did not initially make any connection between the weight gain and Zyprexa, but eventually became so concerned about a possible connection that she wrote a letter to Ishikawa.
“Zyprexa seemed to not be working, so I had to look for another medication,” she said.
She said she had faith in Ishikawa.
“He was more than a doctor to me, he was a counselor,” she said.
Tadai said her son was 17 when he was arrested in September 2004 for pushing her against a door in her home. A neighbor who heard the disturbance called 911, she said, adding that she did not want Cody to be taken into custody.
“I tried to explain to the police that Cody didn’t hit me so please don’t arrest him,” she said. “I didn’t think this was fair to Cody.”
She said that because of the incident, a judge ordered that Cody live with his father. She said that despite her son’s problems, he graduated from high school and was attending college when he died.