Eli Lilly & Co. has agreed to a settlement with federal regulators that will include a fine of $615 million to settle criminal lawsuits, and a further $800 million to resolve civil litigation related to injuries caused by its anti psychotic drug Zyprexa.That makes the total fine amount to close to $1.5 billion, said to be the largest criminal fine for an American company. The company will plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge, and will not plead guilty to wrongdoing in any civil case.
The punishment is for the company’s indulgence of off-label use of its Zyprexa medication. Off-label use is the promotion of a drug by a company for purposes other than that for which it has been approved.It’s not prohibited for doctors to prescribe drugs for purposes other than that for which it was specified, but pharmaceutical companies are expressly forbidden from promoting such off label use of the drug.
Zyprexa is an anti psychotic drug that is meant for use by patients who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar mania, but that didn’t stop Eli Lily from promoting the product as a sleep medication for elderly dementia patients. Between 1999 and 2003, thousands of Eli Lilly representatives were urged to promote use of Zyprexa for use in dementia patients.Documents produced in court have shown that the company greedily pushed Zyprexa to treat a variety of disorders that it was never approved for, including aggression, dementia and dementia related to Alzheimer’s Disease.The company began promoting the medication in assisted living facilities and long term care nursing homes. Effects of the medication like weight gain were already becoming evident, but Eli Lilly’s representatives pooh poohed these, saying these were part of the benefits of taking the medication.Representatives were urged to market the drug for symptomatic treatment, even in cases where the drug had not been approved. Incidences of patients dying from heart attacks and infections after using the drug began to surface, and finally in 2006, the FDA ordered the company to have strong warning labels that cautioned patients of the drug’s risk for elderly patients. Since then, the company has paid out $1.2 billion in settlement of at least 32,000 injury claims that were brought against it.This new settlement is in addition to the previous one.
Eli Lilly’s greed for profits at the cost of the health of thousands of patients isn’t the first instance of corporate greed by a pharmaceutical company, but it was astonishing in how widespread and audacious the unscrupulous practices were. Too often, pharmaceutical companies throw ethical practices to the wind, instead choosing to boost bottom lines, even when it’s evident that such practices could put the lives of thousands of patients at risk.In cases like this, victims can claim compensation for their injuries through a product liability attorney who can help evaluate the damages suffered, and the company’s liability in causing these.
If you have been injured or fallen sick because of a defective medication, then you may be able to claim damages for your suffering.Contact a product liability lawyer at the Katz law to evaluate your options for compensation.