Falsely marketing Zyprexa
The New York Times reported today the the U.S. government and Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Zyprexa, are close to reaching a deal to settle civil and criminal charges against the company for illegal "off-label marketing". The drug has only been approved for the treatment of schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder, and apparently it is very effective in that role. Not satisfied with the performance of its best-selling drug in that role, however, Lilly reportedly attempted to market the drug to doctors as a treatment for mild bipolar disorder and for dementia. Although a drug, once approved, may be utilized by a physician for any purpose, it is illegal for the manufacturer to purposely market the drug for unapproved purposes.
The drug had sales of 4.8 billion dollars in 2007, and Lilly recently paid 1.2 billion dollars to settle 30,000 lawsuits relating to complications it has caused--particularly including weight gain and diabetes. The NYT reported that Lilly will pay another billion dollars to settle the current claims, and that it is attempting to effect the settlement before a case brought by the State of Alaska can be heard this summer.
While these settlements are significant, they will be substantially underwritten by the forty percent price increase that Lilly implemented in 2003, after the allegations of off-label marketing were raised.
You can read the New York Times article here. Lilly considers $1 billion fine to settle case
An earlier NY Times article, describing new "Black Box" warnings for Zyprexa may be read here: Lilly Adds Strong Warning Label to Zyprexa, a Schizophrenia Drug