Zyprexa Suit Settled by Eli Lilly
The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to a charge of marketing the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa for off-label use. To settle civil suits and end the criminal investigation, Eli Lilly & Co. will pay $1.42 billion. $800 million will go toward settling suits and includes $438 million to the federal government and $362 million to state governments. $615 million will go toward ending the criminal probe. The company will also plead guilty to a misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for marketing Zyprexa as a treatment for dementia. However, the company did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the civil cases. It is reported that 30 states are involved in this settlement.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Zyprexa for treating bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. While doctors were allowed to prescribe it for other uses, Eli Lilly was not allowed to promote these uses. However, Eli Lilly promoted Zyprexa as a treatment for dementia and Alzheimer’s related dementia between September 1999 and March 2001. The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Office of Consumer Litigation of the Department of Justice began an investigation in 2004.
Since its approval in 1996, Zyprexa has become the top selling drug for Eli Lilly, bringing in nearly $3.5 billion in the first three quarters of 2008 alone. However, Lilly spent over one billion dollars resolving 32,000 claims having to do with Zyprexa product liability.
Over a hundred cases are still pending, including one brought by insurance companies and unions that could potentially cost Eli Lilly billions more in penalties.