Anchorage Daily News

Gottstein honored for role as mental health activist

(Published: April 29, 2007)

ANCHORAGE -- Anchorage lawyer Jim Gottstein may have ticked off drug giant Eli Lilly by releasing information about its psychiatric drug Zyprexa, but his work as a mental health activist is winning him praise in Anchorage.

Gottstein will be honored May 20 with the annual Shining Lights award given out by Congregation Beth Sholom. A dinner and reception will take place at the temple that evening.

"We chose Jim because in his professional life ... he has taken on a role to speak for people whose voices would not otherwise be heard," said Marla Greenstein, president of the congregation's board of trustees.

Gottstein represents people with mental illness who are fighting against being forced to take potentially damaging psychiatric drugs.

The congregation's award recognizes character traits of honesty and integrity and is rooted in the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, which means repairing the world, Greenstein said. The congregation's board of trustees picks the recipient.

Gottstein is one of the key players in the on-going national controversy involving Eli Lilly and its best-selling drug, Zyprexa, which has been linked to diabetes and weight gain. He subpoenaed company documents about Zyprexa and then provided them to a New York Times reporter and others. The documents show a decade-long effort to downplay the drug's health risks in order to protect sales, the Times reported.

Eli Lilly has threatened to seek sanctions, including fines and jail time, against Gottstein, claiming he violated a court order by releasing the documents.

-- Anchorage Daily News


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