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Antipsychotic Drugs Linked to Risk of Diabetes

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Three drugs commonly prescribed for schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses increased patients’ risk of developing diabetes when compared with older antipsychotic medications, researchers said Sunday.

The drugs -- Zyprexa, made by Eli Lilly, Risperdal, made by Jannsen Pharmaceutica, and Seroquel, made by AstraZeneca -- were associated with higher rates of diabetes than older generation drugs for schizophrenia like Haldol, the study found. But the increased risk was statistically significant only for Zyprexa and Risperdal, the researchers said, possibly because of the smaller number of subjects in the study who took Seroquel.

The results were from a long-awaited study of patients treated at veterans hospitals and clinics across the country.

Younger patients, under age 54, who took Zyprexa or Risperdal showed the highest risk of developing diabetes, the study found. The study was led by Francesca Cunningham of the Department of Veterans Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Although the newer drugs raised the chances that a patient would get diabetes, the absolute number of cases was still relatively small.

Monks Remain Favorite Pitchmen

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Even as lines are drawn in new clashes over religion in society, with flash points like the display of the Ten Commandments in an Alabama courthouse, Madison Avenue still turns to one set of the faithful to charm consumers on all sides of the culture wars: monks.

Monks are marketers’ darlings, having starred lately in campaigns for America Online’s broadband service, General Mills’ Oatmeal Crisp Fruit ’n Cereal Bars and PepsiCo’s Pepsi Blue brand. These came after appearances for companies like IBM, Nintendo and Sony.

“They’re lovable,” said Len Short, executive vice president for brand marketing at America Online in Dulles, Va., part of AOL Time Warner. In the pantheon of widely appealing stock figures, “you have dogs, babies and monks.” he said. “Who hates monks?”

Monk characters recur in advertisements though real monks generally live sequestered in monasteries and often make vows of silence and poverty -- sharing little with the free-spending, hard-charging consumers that marketers seek. But that disparity, according to observers of religion and culture, is what makes monks work for advertisers.

Monks have been in regular rotation as stock advertising characters since 1975, when Xerox began its Brother Dominic campaign. In the first commercial of that campaign, a comedian named Jack Eagle stars as a harried monk who finishes transcribing an ancient text only to discover he must produce several hundred more copies by the morning. He only gets the job done by sneaking through a secret passage from the monastery to use a copy shop’s Xerox 9200. “It’s a miracle,” his superior exclaims the next day.