Florida among states to settle case against drug maker

Oct 7, 2008

South Florida Business Journal–October 7, 2008

Florida is to receive $3.6 million of a landmark $62 million that drug maker Eli Lilly and Co. has agreed to pay to 32 states to settle claims that it improperly marketed Zyprexa, a drug used to treat schizophrenia.

It is the largest multi-state consumer protection-based pharmaceutical settlement. The second largest was a $58 million agreement reached in May with Merck & Co. regarding its product Vioxx.

“This landmark settlement sends the message that pharmaceutical companies will be held responsible for their actions, including any inappropriate marketing practices which may promote off-label uses that have not been approved,” Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a press release.

The litigation alleged that Eli Lilly engaged in unfair and deceptive practices by marketing the drug uses other than schizophrenia.

The company also allegedly failed to adequately disclose the medication’s potential side effects to health care providers.

"We believe all of the parties involved share an interest in putting this dispute behind us," said Robert A. Armitage, Lilly’s senior vice president and general counsel, in a press release. "From our standpoint, it’s certainly in the best interests of the company and the patients, care-givers and health care professionals who continue to rely on this life-saving medication.”

Eli Lilly agreed to modify its marketing practices for Zyprexa and stop promoting any “off-label” uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The payment would result in a third quarter charge of 4 cents a share. Zyprexa is Eli Lilly’s biggest product, with global sales of $4.76 billion in 2007.

Florida’s share of the settlement is to be used to pay for future enforcement efforts and reimburse the attorney general’s office for its fees and costs.