Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lilly pays big settlement in Zyprexa case

For marketing an off label use of Zyprexa, Lilly has agreed to to pay 1,42 billion .
The medication has FDA approval for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disease but it is alleged that Lilly vigorously promoted its use to control agitation in the demented elderly as well as in children with certain behavior disorders.A number of physicians, academic and otherwise, took part in various of these promotional activities.One promotional campaign was cutely named "Viva Zyprexa".

In 2007,sales for Zyprexa reached 4.8 billion with total Lilly drug sales of 18.6 billion.

As interns, we carried around black bags that were given to us on graduation from medical school.Lilly gave out those bags and they came with our names on the bag and I think a reflex hammer and tuning fork inside.Big pharma was known as the "ethical drug industry" back then.How the adjective became part of their designation I don't know. It seemed similar to the House Ways and Means Committee always being referred to as the Powerful Ways and Means.The later adjective still applies, not so much for the former one.

I have written about the Zyprexa saga before and in that blog quoted Dr. Patricia Illingworth:

"some commonly accepted principles of business ethics are fundamentally incompatible with medical ethics"

I believe that is true but what ethics precept could Lilly have possibly adhered to in regard to the Zyprexa promotional activities.

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