The decision by Judge Jack B. Weinstein of Federal District Court came as part of a ruling that gave class-action status to a case brought by insurance companies, pension funds and unions that want Lilly to repay them billions of dollars they spent on the drug. They contend that Lilly hid the side effects of the drug and marketed it for unapproved uses.
The confidential documents were produced by Lilly in response to a related lawsuit filed by patients who said that Zyprexa had caused excessive weight gain and diabetes. The papers were placed under a protective court order soon after the suit was filed in 2004.
“Lilly’s legitimate interest in confidentiality does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure at this stage,” Judge Weinstein wrote.
A spokeswoman for Lilly, Marni Lemons, said the company would not appeal the decision to make the documents public but that it would appeal the judge’s certification of a class action.
The issue of confidential information arose in 2006, when some of the Zyprexa papers were provided to a reporter for The New York Times, Alex Berenson. He wrote front-page articles based on evidence they contained that Lilly executives had kept information from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and high blood sugar.
Eli Lilly denied having withheld such information and said that the documents Mr. Berenson had seen were “cherry-picked” to give a one-sided view.