Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa marketing blueprint.

The State of Montana has sued Eli Lilly for its marketing of Zyprexa. Phil Dawdy at Furious Seasons obtained a copy of the complaint. Here are some key portions:

Lilly “put users at risk for developing severe and harmful health conditions including, but not limited to, hyperglycemia, acute weight gain, diabetes mellitus, exacerbation of of diabetes mellitus, pancreatitis, cardiac problems and death. Furthermore, Defendant has been aware of studies linking Zyprexa to these conditions since 1996 and has known since at least 1999 that Olanzapine causes diabetes at a rate far in excess o fthe risk of most atypical antipsychotics, yet has failed to fully and adequately warn the State, physicians, and consumers of these risks.”

The state further accuses Lilly of off-label marketing of Zyprexa for Alzheimer’s, dementia, Tourette’s, pervasive developmental delay, autism, anorexia nervosa and general depression. And there’s more:

“Lilly’s sales force concentrated on primary care physicians, rather than pyschiaitrsts, and focused upon marketing and selling the drug as treatment for depression and anxiety, rather than the psychotic conditions for which Zyprexa had been approved.”

The state also alleges that Lilly “created a 280-person sales force exclusively for off-label uses especially for long-term care facilities.” And:

“Lilly gave promises of financial benefits, in cash and in kind, to numerous physicians who attended the elderly to cement this unlawful marketing of Zyprexa.” And:

“Lilly management participated, encouraged and authorized the unlawful payment of illegal kickbacks to physicians in order to continue generating sales of Zyprexa.”

The state also alleges that Lilly paid off the long-term care sales manager in Florida in 2006, who had apparently threatened to go public with what he knew of the company’s marketing activities, in order to keep him quiet. Also, according to the complaint, Lilly budgeted $100,00 annually for a sales rep to spend on speaker fees and honoraria. The company paid huge amounts for speakers’ travel, first-class lodging, extravagant meals and entertainment for doctors and their spouses.

The complaint states that Lilly gave gifts to doctors in the form of chartered fishing trips for doctors and their friends, sporting events, expensive dinners and entertaining in order to induce doctors to write off-label prescriptions of Zyprexa among the elderly.

Strong stuff indeed… but really though, how much longer are we going to allow this kind of practice to continue?


2 Responses to “Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa marketing blueprint.”

  1. Matthew Holford Says:

    Interesting that the State chose consumer protection, drug licensing and false claims, which are all dealt with in the civil law, apparently. Fraudulent Misrepresentation is a criminal offence, in the UK.

    I wonder what the upshot will be? Will Eli, like GSK before it, settle out of court, and promise to not market its product for things it’s not licensed for, in future, pay costs and be away on its toes, for the sake of maybe USD2.5mm? All these cases are going to be quite interesting to watch, I think.


  2. Matthew Holford Says:

    I regret that the SFO wasn’t able to comment on an enquiry I put to it, recently. GSK isn’t being investigated by the SFO for making loads of money out of knowingly selling pharmaceuticals of questionable safety and benefit.

    No, it’s altogether funnier than that. It’s being investigated for being involved in the discredited oil-for-food sanctions regime in Iraq. According to The Guardian it has been accused of paying bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime. AstraZeneca and Eli are also being looked at.


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