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Paul Kiesel
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States Intensify Investigation into Eli Lilly's Zyprexa

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States investigating Lilly for risks of Zyprexa. Documents show Lilly played down risks of Zyprexa.

State prosecutors in Illinois and Vermont have demanded that Eli Lilly turn over information about how the company advertised and promoted its best selling drug Zyprexa. Illinois and Vermont have become a part of a consolidated five state civil investigation into how Lilly promoted Zyprexa, a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The investigation centers on whether Lilly attempted to hide the risk of Zyprexa causing severe weight gain as well as other risks associated with diabetes. In addition, the states want to know whether Lilly promoted Zyprexa for use in patients with conditions other than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The federal government prohibits “off label” marketing, although doctors may prescribe medications for any disease they believe may help. Lilly denies “off label” promoting of Zyprexa, however, its marketing materials say otherwise. Repeatedely, Lilly’s promotional materials refer to using the drug for other purposes. This practice has been confirmed by various doctors and company sales representatives.

Zyprexa, whose generic name is olanzapine, is a powerful chemical that binds with receptors in the brain to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Internal Lilly documents obtained through litigation show that Lilly has engaged in a decade long campaign to minimize the severity of Zyprexa’s side effects. Lilly did not disclose to doctors that its own research demonstrated that 16 percent of those taking the drug gained more than 66 pounds. The documents also reveal that Lilly instructed its sales reps to push Zyprexa to doctors for diseases other than bipolar disease and schizophrenia.

Some states, such as California and Florida, are engaged in criminal investigations of Lilly and may seek to recover Medicaid payments that the states made for Zyprexa.

Kiesel Boucher Larson has expertise in drug litigation and represents numerous victims of defective drugs.