Eli Lilly paid doctors to write Zyprexa prescriptions?

South Carolina government lawyers introduced damaging evidence in a court hearing in a lawsuit against the drug company, Eli Lilly. Pharmaceutical sales representatives’ notes reveal South Carolina doctors were paid for prescribing Zyprexa, a now highly debated antipsychotic, to patients.

Government lawyers with the state of South Carolina sue Eli Lilly the maker of Zyprexa for illegal marketing practices.

Columbia, SC–South Carolina government attorneys litigating a lawsuit against Indianapolis based Eli Lilly introduced heavily damaging evidence before the court in a hearing on September 8, 2009. As reported by Bloomberg, the case of the State of South Carolina v. Eli Lilly & Co., 2007-CP-42-1855, Common Pleas Court for South Carolina’s Seventh Judicial Circuit, kicked off with a bang earlier this week when attorneys made public notes made by drug sales representatives for the maker of the antipsychotic medication Zyprexa. The lawsuit filed by South Carolina government attorneys asserts Eli Lilly & Co., compensated doctors for participating in a speakers’ program provided they prescribed Zyprexa to patients.

The drug company’s employee notes were made public in the court hearing and further revealed sales representatives gambled number of prescriptions in golf games. Bloomberg released this quote from the notes, “‘I got four pars out of nine holes,’ Lilly salesman Vince Sullivan said in a February 2002 note. ‘I said I wanted my four new patients.’” Apparently this bet was the result of a physician agreeing to prescribe Zyprexa to a new patient every time a sales representative for Eli Lilly made par or completed the green in a certain number of strokes. The state has sued Lilly citing the drug maker marketed the antipsychotic for unapproved uses. The trial is scheduled for September 14, 2009, and contends the state paid for prescriptions of Zyprexa for unapproved uses. Zyprexa was approved only for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and not for the numerous other indications it has been used for like sleep disorder in elderly patients with dementia and children with behavioral problems.

The state of South Carolina is seeking to recover the $200 million it spent on Zyprexa prescriptions which was used for unapproved uses. Lawyers for the state further claim the drug manufacturer did not inform about Zyprexa’s side effects like weight gain. When drug companies actively market unapproved medications they are violating federal laws and regulations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) http://www.fda.gov is charged with approving medications for use by consumers. Taking medications for which have not been proven safe and effective may cause injury.

Legal news reporter Heather L. Ryan for South Carolina government attorneys.

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