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Attorney General Sorrell Announces $1.5 Million Settlement With Eli Lilly

CONTACT: Julie Brill, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3658

October 7, 2008 - Vermont will receive over $1.5 million as a result of a settlement reached between Attorney General William H. Sorrell and 32 other Attorneys General, and Eli Lilly and Company. “We will not tolerate pharmaceutical companies pushing drugs for uses not approved by the FDA,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Eli Lilly’s marketing activities harmed some of the most vulnerable Vermonters, including the elderly and persons suffering from mental illness.”

The Attorneys General and Eli Lilly reached a record $62 million dollar settlement arising from alleged improper marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. It is the largest 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 the complaint filed today along with the settlement agreement (both available at www.atg.state.vt.us), Attorney General Sorrell alleged that Eli Lilly violated Vermont law when it marketed Zyprexa without adequately disclosing to health care providers the drug’s potentially dangerous side effects, including weight gain, hyperglycemia, diabetes, cardiovascular complications, and an increased risk of mortality in elderly patients with dementia and other severe conditions. The complaint also alleges that Eli Lilly violated the law when marketing for “off-label” uses--uses that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Zyprexa is approved for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But, without FDA approval, Eli Lilly promoted it for use by children, for use at high dosage levels, and in the elderly for the treatment and chemical restraint of patients suffering from dementia. While a physician is allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, the law prohibits pharmaceutical manufacturers from marketing their products for off-label uses.

The agreement requires Eli Lilly to reform its marketing practices to ensure that the company does not engage in these illegal marketing practices again. Today’s lawsuit and settlement do not affect any individual consumer’s ability to seek relief from Eli Lilly for its marketing practices.

The other 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, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

For further information on this case, see the court documents posted on the Attorney General's website at: www.atg.state.vt.us under “Prescription Drugs.”

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.