Zyprexa Lawsuit Reveals Eli Lilly’s Marketing Practices

An Alaska courtroom is revealing some interesting facts about Eli Lilly’s marketing practices concerning it’s schizophrenia drug, Zyprexa. What we’re learning is something we’ve suspected and been able to infer for years about the big drug companies. They are always looking to expand their market, often beyond what the FDA has approved. Now we’re beginning to see the actual inner workings of a large pharmaceutical company in their ruthless efforts to expand usage of their drugs. We’ve known that Lilly has aggressively campaigned to expand the approved market for Zyprexa since 2000. What we didn’t know is that a top official at Eli Lilly intimated (the language is couched and careful) that Zyprexa should be marketed for off-label use. The NY Times is reporting that an email sent by John C. Lechleiter, an Eli Lilly official who is about to become the company’s top executive, wrote an e-mail message in 2003 that appears to have encouraged Lilly to promote its schizophrenia medicine Zyprexa for a use not approved by federal drug regulators. The email message is part of testimony in the state of Alaska’s case against Eli Lilly in which the state is seeking reimbursement for medicaid patients who used the drug and developed diabetes as a result.