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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that he, along with 33 other Attorneys General, reached a record $62 million dollar settlement with Eli Lilly and Company arising from alleged improper marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. It is the largest ever multi-state consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement, following closely on the heels of the May 2008, $58 million agreement with Merck regarding its product Vioxx.
In a complaint filed today along with the settlement agreement, Van Hollen alleged that Eli Lilly engaged in untrue, deceptive and misleading trade marketing and promoting when it marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses and for failing to adequately disclose the drug's potential side effects to health care providers. Following a 1.5-year investigation, Eli Lilly agreed to change how it markets Zyprexa and to cease promoting its "off-label" uses, which are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"Wisconsin law makes false and deceptive marketing unlawful," Van Hollen said. "Where aggressive pharmaceutical marketing fails to accurately present known risks or deceptively uses scientific data, consumers can be driven to and doctors encouraged to prescribe medication that is dangerous."
Zyprexa is the brand name for the prescription drug olanzapine. The drug was first marketed for use in adults with schizophrenia in 1996. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has approved Zyprexa for the treatment of acute mixed or manic episodes of bipolar I disorder and for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. Zyprexa belongs to a class of drugs traditionally used to treat schizophrenia and commonly referred to as "atypical antipsychotics." When these drugs were first introduced to the market in the 1990s, experts thought that atypical antipsychotics would be less likely to produce symptoms similar to those seen in Parkinson's disease (extrapyramidal symptoms), and motion disorders (tardive dyskinesia), and therefore could be used in long-term treatment of schizophrenia. While these drugs may reduce the risk of these symptoms associated with first-generation antipsychotics, they also produce dangerous side effects, including weight gain, hyperglycemia, diabetes, cardiovascular complications, an increased risk of mortality in elderly patients with dementia and other severe conditions. Zyprexa has been associated with a high risk of weight gain, hyperglycemia, and diabetes.
In 2001, Eli Lilly began an aggressive marketing campaign called "Viva Zyprexa!" As part of that campaign, the company marketed Zyprexa for a number of off-label uses. For example, it marketed Zyprexa for pediatric use, for use at high dosage levels, for the treatment of symptoms rather than diagnosed conditions, and in the elderly for the treatment and/or chemical restraint.
of patients suffering from dementia. While a physician is allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, law prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from marketing their products for off-label uses.
The settlement mandates that for a six year time period extending beyond the patent term for Zyprexa, Eli Lilly shall:
Dissemination of Medical Information
Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Grants
Payments to Consultants and Speakers
The Attorneys General from Illinois and Oregon led the investigation into Eli Lilly's marketing and promotional practices. The participating states in the settlement are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Assistant Attorney General Lara Sutherlin handled the case for Van Hollen's Consumer Protection Division.