Press release-AG Recovers Millions for State

Jackson, MS-In the midst of Mississippi’s fiscal crisis, Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that he recovered $18.5 million from a settlement with Eli Lilly for alleged fraud involving the drug Zyprexa.

“We recovered every penny we spent on the drug by Medicaid and the State Insurance Plan, plus penalties,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “Hopefully, the Legislature will use this money to prevent the shut down of our courts, prosecutors, law enforcement and other vital government services.”

The drug was only approved for major psychotic disorders, but the state alleged that the drug company promoted the drug to doctors for many unapproved uses such as minor depression. The company’s studies showed the drug caused diabetes, but publication of the studies was suppressed.

The “Consent Judgment and Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” was filed January 26, 2010 in the Circuit Court of Lafayette County, Mississippi and settles Mississippi’s claims against Eli Lilly for alleged fraud against the State of Mississippi and violations of the Consumer Protection Act. By settling the claims, Eli Lilly admits to no wrongdoing.

The agreement with Eli Lilly ensures, among other things, that the company:

-will not make any written or oral claim that is false, misleading or deceptive regarding Zyprexa
-will not promote Zyprexa for off-label uses
-communications concerning off-label uses of Zyprexa shall not be false, misleading or deceptive

Any violation of the above, and the other settlement terms negotiated, will result in further penalties for Eli Lilly.

The State of Mississippi began pursuing its claims against Eli Lilly in July 2006 as a means to 1) recover funds expended by the State of Mississippi in purchasing the prescription drug known as Zyprexa for non-medically necessary uses, and 2) to recover funds expended by the State of Mississippi through its State Health Plan in purchasing Zyprexa for uses in which the efficacy of the medication was outweighed by the dangerous side effects associated with the drug.

More specific allegations against Eli Lilly were that:

-the company’s pre-clinical studies demonstrated that the drug causes weight gain and hyperglycemia, which is linked to diabetes. Additionally, Eil Lilly knew of Zyprexa’s propensity to cause diabetes nearly a year and a half before it first warned of the risk of diabetes in the United States, and the company consistently suppressed attempts within the company to make the association between drug induced weight gain and hyperglycemia public.
-the company misled doctors regarding the safety and efficacy of the drug.
-the company trained and instructed its primary care sales force to attempt to expand Zyprexa’s market by convincing primary care physicians to prescribe the drug for mood, thought and behavioral disturbances.
-the company established a sales message to primary care physicians based on patients’ symptoms and behaviors, rather than on their confirmed diagnoses.
-the company falsely represented that Zyprexa is safer or more effective than less expensive, generic forms of first generation antipsychotics.
-the State of Mississippi expended funds through its Division of Medicaid in reimbursing pharmacies for non-medically necessary uses of Zyprexa for eligible recipients.