7:05 AM May 18, 2007
Utah sues Lilly over Zyprexa
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Utah, accusing Indianapolis-based Lilly of pushing doctors to prescribe the drug to treat "off-label" conditions like Tourette's syndrome, Alzheimer's and anorexia.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Zyprexa for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Doctors are free to prescribe drugs for uses not approved by the FDA, but pharmaceutical companies are prohibited by law from marketing drugs for non FDA-approved uses. And because the prescriptions were subsidized by Medicaid, the state is seeking damages from Eli Lilly.
Eli Lilly spokesman Phil Belt said he was unfamiliar with the lawsuit and could not comment on it specifically. He said the company has training and compliance programs to ensure that all its products are marketed appropriately.
Side effects to Zyprexa can include high blood sugar levels, acute weight gain and pancreatitis, according to the lawsuit.
"Utah has paid millions of dollars for inappropriate and medically unnecessary doses of Zyprexa. As a result, Lilly has been illegally enriched at the expense of the State," the lawsuit said.
The state is seeking civil damages and penalties, including $5,000-$10,000 for each prescription that was "not medically necessary."
Lilly also faces lawsuits filed by attorneys general of Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and West Virginia alleging that it marketed Zyprexa for unapproved uses or hid the risks of weight gain and diabetes.