Back in 1995, Eli Lilly sent documents to the FDA showing that Zyprexa, an antipsychotic medication, was not proven effective in alleviating symptoms of dementia in elderly consumers. However, Eli Lilly is now facing lawsuits brought by healthcare insurance providers and pension plans who say the pharmaceutical giant should pay as much as $6.8 billion in damages for downplaying Zyprexa’s health risks after they marketed the drug for an unapproved use, specifically to treat dementia, simply to increase their profits.
During the discovery process of the suit, 10,000 internal Eli documents were unsealed that revealed that Eli Lilly began promoting Zyprexa in earnest to dementia patients, although they reportedly had no less than seven studies that proved that Zyprexa was ineffective for treating dementia. In fact, their studies showed that the drug actually contributed to higher death rates amongst the elderly dementia patients that took it in comparison with patients that took a placebo instead. Nevertheless, Eli Lilly launched an intense endorsement campaign of the drug “behind closed doors”, so to speak, otherwise known as “off label promotion”—promotion of an unapproved use of a particular drug.
Some of Lilly’s promotion techniques included hiring “ghostwriters”, where company officials would write bogus medical journal articles touting “scientific studies” that proved the effectiveness of the drug in elderly dementia patients and then had doctors sign off on the studies. In an even more blatant attempt to promote the drug to dementia patients, Lilly employees compiled a go-to guide of scientists that they knew they could count on to write favorable articles on the drug. Finally, further complicating the mess, Lilly allegedly was in cahoots with CVS Caremark Corp. as well—CVS apparently used its access to doctors to market Zyprexa by offering to send 120,000 letters to these doctors promoting the drug if Lilly agreed to pay $5 per letter. CVS is not a defendant in the suit, and Lilly refuses to state whether or not they accepted the letter-sending offer.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.