Monday, September 8, 2008
Noting that "Lilly's legitimate interest in confidentiality does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure," Judge Jack B. Weinstein unsealed formerly confidential documents on links between Zyprexa, obesity, and high blood sugar. Both the New York Law Journal and the New York Times have articles on the topic. As I've written in the past, transparency in matters affecting the public is crucial to judicial institutional legitimacy and public education. Consequently, this is a big step in that direction. Here's an excerpt from the New York Times piece by Mary Williams Walsh:
The publication of sealed information led Judge Weinstein to issue a sharply worded ruling last year, stating that Mr. Berenson had engaged in a conspiracy with a doctor and a lawyer and that they had used others “as their agents in crime.”
The judge said the sealed documents belonged to Lilly and ordered the doctor, David S. Egilman, and the lawyer, James B. Gottstein, to return them. Dr. Egilman had been serving as an expert consultant for the plaintiffs at the time, and Mr. Gottstein was working on Zyprexa litigation in Alaska.
Since then, insurance companies, unions, medical researchers and other publications have filed formal requests for copies of the documents. Many of the papers were entered into open court proceedings in Alaska, and copies of some have been posted on the Internet.
In his ruling on Friday, Judge Weinstein repeated that the information had been “obtained illegally” by The Times but also cited “this country’s general policy of accessibility of court records.”
The 295 page opinion is available here and the case is In re Zyprexa Products Liability Litigation, 04-MD-1596.