Corrupt Industry Practices– Lilly pays 1.42 Billion in fines

Drug companies spend more on marketing drugs than they do on research. Lilly is pleading guilty to illegally promoting it’s anti-psychotic agent Zyprexa for other uses.

“Lilly admits it promoted Zyprexa in elderly people to treat dementia, a use not approved by “the Food and Drug Administration,

“Zyprexa, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had sales of $4.76 billion in 2007, accounting for about a quarter of Lilly’s revenue. The drug, part of a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics, has been linked to excessive weight gain and diabetes.” \

This is not the first settlement for Lilly regarding this drug. It has also paid over a billion dollars to patients for harm caused by inappropriate use of this drug.

“The fine would be in addition to $1.2 billion that Lilly has already paid to settle 30,000 lawsuits from people who claim that Zyprexa caused them to develop diabetes or other diseases. Zyprexa can cause severe weight gain in many patients and has been linked to diabetes by the American Diabetes Association.”

“Internal Lilly marketing documents and e-mail messages showed that Lilly wanted to persuade doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for patients with age-related dementia or relatively mild bipolar disorder.”

Earlier Lilly had a marketing scheme to doctors “Viva Zyprexa” (sound familiar?) aimed at urging the sue of the drug in dementia.

“In one document, an unidentified Lilly marketing executive wrote that primary care doctors “do treat dementia” but leave schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to psychiatrists. As a result, sales representatives should discuss dementia with primary care doctors”

Zyprexa costs in the range of $4000-$6000/year or more depending on the dose.

Medicynical note: Corrupt insurer (see yesterday’s post on Unitedhealth) and pharmaceutical company practices go away with a national health care program. In that new world which is reality in other industrialized nations, health insurance, drug utilization and pricing would be more carefully reviewed and supervised.

One wonders what happened to the “ethical” pharmaceutical industry, as it was called in the 60’s?

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