Another Off-Label Controversy–Watch Out, California Consumers!

According to a recent article put out by Bloomberg, Eli Lilly & Co. urged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with dementia, an unapproved use for the antipsychotic, even though the drugmaker had evidence the medicine didn’t work for such patients. Lilly pleaded guilty in January to a federal misdemeanor charge of illegally marketing Zyprexa for off-label use to elderly consumers. Zyprexa was introduced in 1996 and was developed to help control hallucinations and delusions associated with Schizophrenia and sever mania. Shamelessly, after Lilly had sent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration study results that showed it didn’t alleviate dementia symptoms in older patients, it started marketing the drug to dementia patients. One sales representative admitted that she persuaded a doctor to write Zyprexa prescriptions for use in elderly patients for help with insomnia or irritability. A different sales person asked a doctor to give Zyprexa to elderly who are not thinking clearly and are suspicious and hostile.
In 2002 Zyprexa sales grew after Lilly expanded their label off-label marketing campaign-widening their prescriber base to include primary care physicians-encouraging its use for Post Traumatic Stress, mood disorders and insomnia. Lilly officials have not only marketed Zyprexa for off label use but they are accused of hiding the drug’s health risk and failure to properly warn patients they could develop diabetes by taking the medicine. Even more disturbing is the fact that Lilly acknowledged death among patients taking Zyprexa was significantly greater than placebo-treated patients. By lying about Zyprexa’s benefits and downplaying its risks-in their effort to pump up sales–Lilly has damaged the lives of countless consumers. Consumer safety is seriously violated when they place their trust in their doctors who are prescribing drugs, drugs that come from a company, such as Lilly– who’s website states on their Ethics and Compliance page– that they “conduct business consistent with all applicable laws, are honest in their dealing with customers, and maintain an environment built on respect and concern for all the people they touched and are touched by their company.” Thankfully, consumers can rely on the law for protection after being harmed and lied to by big pharma. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers who have been injured from drugs prescribed for unapproved uses.