Eli Lilly’s Illegal Marketing of Zyprexa Will Cost Company $1 Billion Plus

Eli Lilly took a calculated gamble when it decided to market its blockbuster drug Zyprexa for dementia and mild bipolar disorder. It hadn’t been approved for such purposes and the drug company was prohibited from marketing the drug for unapproved uses. Yet, Lilly decided to do it anyway. The cost of such a gamble: $1.4 billion. However, keep in mind that US sales of Zyprexa are over $2 billion so it was a calculated risk that made the company money, albeit illegally. The $1.4 billion will be charged off against company earnings and Eli Lilly will go on relatively unscathed.
That’s the problem with these huge pharmaceutical companies. They can afford to break the law because it’s still a lucrative thing to do. These practices won’t change in the pharmaceutical industry until the government and the court system decides to play hardball with them and hit them where it hurts-their pocketbook. As long as the consequences are minor, these companies can continue to act with impugnity. The situation will only deteriorate if they get what they want with potential federal pre-emption. This isn’t a good situation for the consumer who relies on the safety of these drugs. Ordinary people have to be able to trust these companies and believe that they are manufacturing safe and effective drugs. If not, our healthcare system is in real peril.