Eli Lilly Promoted Drug For Unapproved Use

Drugmaker Eli Lilly pushed physicians to prescribe Zyprexa, a drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, to patients having neither condition, NYT reports.

Documents provided to the NYT disclose a campaign promoting the drug using “patient profiles.” One profile was,

    “”Martha,” a widow with adult children “who lives independently and has been your patient for some time.” Martha was described as being agitated and having disturbed sleep, but without the symptoms of paranoia or mania that typically marked a person with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder…

    …Zyprexa is not approved to treat dementia or dementia-related psychosis, and in fact carries a prominent warning from the F.D.A. that it increases the risk of death in older patients with dementia-related psychosis.”

Zyprexa’s generic name is olanzapine. In a speech praising 16 reps for convincing doctors to write extra Zyprexa scrips, and thereby “maxed out on a pretty sweet incentive,” a Zyprexa brand manager said, “Olanzapine is the molecule that keeps on giving.”


Drug Files Show Maker Promoted Unapproved Use [NYT]


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    These pharmaceutical scare me more than the illegal druge dealers on the street. They certaily seem shadier…

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    *for clarification

    …because when someone approaches an illegal drug dealer on the streets, they know they aren’t going to give them sound medical advice. There are known inherent dangers.

    In this case, most people expect to go to a doctor and get perscriptions that help them, that are appropriate, and don’t do more harm than good.

  3. Altered Beast – they’re not much different in some cases – see the recent problems with drug reps and Actiq.

  4. The representative “presented an elderly female patient who was presented to her physician by her family complaining of insomnia, agitation, slight confusion, and had no physical finding to explain her state,” the doctor wrote. The representative then suggested that the doctor prescribe Zyprexa.

    “I inquired what Zyprexa was indicated for she then indicated that many physicians might prescribe an antipsychotic for this patient. I then asked for her package insert and read to her that her product was indicated for schizophrenia and bipolar mania – neither of which the presented patient had been diagnosed with,” the doctor wrote.

    So now we have a drug company lying to doctors about what their drug can/should be used to treat. I hope that lawyer gets these people thrown in prison.

  5. DannyHaszard says:

    Eli Lilly ZYPREXA LIES!

    Zyprexa off label promotion scandal is all over the news now.
    Lilly drug reps are alleged to have called their marketing ploy,”Viva zyprexa”.

    Eli Lilly zyprexa cost me over $250.00 a month supply out of my own pocket X 4 years and has up to ten times the risk (over non users) of causing diabetes and severe weight gain.

    Zyprexa which is only FDA approved for schizophrenia (.5-1% of pop) and some bipolar (2% pop) and then an even smaller percentage of theses two groups.
    So how does Zyprexa get to be the 7th largest drug sale in the world?
    Eli Lilly is in deep trouble for using their drug reps to ‘encourage’ doctors to write zyprexa for non-FDA approved ‘off label’ uses.

    Only 9 percent of adult Americans think the pharmaceutical industry can be trusted right around the same rating as big tobacco.

    Daniel Haszard zyprexa-victims.com

  6. acambras says:

    If I were a doctor and had gone through all that school and training, I would really resent some pharmaceutical company SALESPERSON trying to dictate patient treatment to me.

  7. Ben Popken says:

    True, acambras, but the doctors stay for the free sandwiches and pizza offered during the presentations.

  8. kbax says:

    Wow, double whammy. It’s in the news twice today. There’s also this.

    So, to recap…Lilly was pushing a drug with possibly debilitating but unpublicized side effects onto patients that did not have the diseases for which the drug is supposed to be prescribed. Beautiful.

  9. acambras says:

    Yeah, Ben — the same thing happens in my field (architecture). Product reps hold “lunch and learns” in hopes that well-fed architects and interns will spec their product on the next big project. We’ve had some good presentations, but invariably the first question on everyone’s mind is “what are they bringing for lunch?”

  10. Jesse in Japan says:

    Zyprexa also causes massive, massive weight gain.

  11. acambras says:

    So do those “lunch and learns,” Jesse. ;-)

  12. FLConsumer says:

    I don’t have a problem with doctors using drugs for off-label purposes, as long as they’ve done their research and understand full well what they’re doing. A few off-label uses of drugs have saved my life, but this was for medical conditions, not mental health drugs, so the variables were far more known.

    Now, I have a problem with pharma promoting off-label use. If they’re going to promote it for a use, they better run clinical trials and be held to the same standards as the labeled uses. If it really works, they would have no problem doing this.

  13. HaxRomana says:

    It’s called off-label use, and it’s pretty common.

    Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer, is also used to treat non-cancerous breast swelling because it reduces the level of estrogen in the body. This is an off-label use.

    Demopressin, or DDAVP, was originally used to increase clotting factors in patients suffering from hemophilia or Von Willebrand’s disease. It also reduces the amount of urine created by the kidneys, so now it is also used in the treatment of primary nocturnal enuresis…more commonly known as wetting the bed. At one time, this was an off-label use.

    There are hundreds more. Get over it.