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Eli Lilly denies corrupt marketing

US pharma company Eli Lilly said on March 12 that it denies charges levied against it for marketing its schizophrenia drug for unapproved uses

US pharma company Eli Lilly said on March 12 that it denies charges levied against it for marketing its schizophrenia drug for unapproved uses.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that he is suing the pharmaceutical manufacture for what he alleges to have been an "illegal marketing" campaign.

Eli Lilly's drug Zyprexa has been developed for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolarity but has not been granted FDA approval for use in children.

Blumenthal said: "Through a complex series of illegal rackets and lies, Eli Lilly built a mutil-billion dollar drug enterprise at the expense of taxpayers, consumers and patient lives."

"The illegal marketing campaign exploited children and senior citizens - causing severe weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular problems," he added.

In what Blumenthal has called a "sick marketing mindset: profits over patients", Eli Lilly has allegedly paid thousands of dollars to physicians and pharmacies, as well as staff at nursing and youth home, to push Zyprexa for unapproved uses.

But Eli Lilly has repudiated any notion that they partook in any wrongdoing or the type of corruption alleged by Blumenthal.

Lilly has been keen to advise that Zyprexa is a vital life saving treatment for patients suffering from mental illnesses such as bipolarity and said that it is used by 23 million people across the world.

Calling Blumenthal's statement a ëdisservice to patients', Eli Lilly said: "We believe these claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them."

"The news release contained no acknowledgement of the seriousness of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, no reference to the importance of treatment stability, and provided no guidance to patients who may now have questions about their treatment," Eli Lilly added.

The Connecticut Attorney General says the US pharmaceutical company illegally promoted the use of the drug for treating children with disorders such as depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder.

Blumenthal said: "Driven by fierce greed, Eli Lilly corrupted doctors, pharmacies and public officials nationwide who easily abandoned integrity and decency for self-enrichment."

"The scheme involved payments to public officials, bogus educational events and ghost-written promotional articles summarizing suspect studies," alleges Blumenthal.

While the Connecticut Attorney General made a long list of allegations, his did not specify the number of people who they claim to have been affected by adverse side effects caused by Zyprexa.

Eli Lilly said: "We remain confident in the safety and efficacy of Zyprexa based on the depth and breadth of scientific research conducted around the world."

The company has advised patients to continue taking their prescriptions of the drug and consult their doctors about any concerns raised by this announcement.

13th March 2008

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