Drug giant Eli Lily has been caught red-handed in an off-label marketing scheme of the drug Zyprexa. The FDA has approved the drug for treatment of schizophrenia and certain types of bipolar disorder. Many states have sued the drug giant for marketing the drug to treat other mental health conditions such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer's and agitation. Marketing a drug to treat conditions it has not been approved for is illegal.
The Associated Press reports that Utah has entered into an agreement with Eli Lily to settle that state's claim. Eli Lily has agreed to pay Utah $24 Million. The Utah Attorney General stated that his office found that 1,769 patients over the age of 65 had been prescribed the drug but had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Last year, Eli Lily settled similar claims with more than 30 other states, including North Carolina, in a $62 Million settlement, but Utah and 13 other states refused to settle and filed separate lawsuits. In the last 60 days, South Carolina agreed to settle for $45 Million and Connecticut agreed to accept $25 Million for Zyprexa's illegal marketing.
Eli Lily settled with the US Department of Justice in January for $1.4 Billion. As part of that settlement, Eli Lily also agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges that it violated the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In that case, the DOJ alleged that Lily had persuaded physicians to prescribe Zyprexa to children and elderly patients when they knew that the drug was not designed for these patient populations and that it can be harmful to these age groups.