Eli Lilly has been sued by individuals and sued by way of class action for failure to warn adequately that the drug can cause weight gain, diabetes, hypoglycemia and death. Eli Lilly has also been accused of pushing doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for off-label purposes—unrelated to the FDA approved use of the drug—for example for dementia in seniors.
The company is currently in litigation with the attorneys general of numerous states, including Utah, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and West Virginia, who claim that the company marketed Zyprexa for unapproved uses or hid the risk of weight gain and diabetes. These states paid millions for what they call medically inappropriate or unnecessary prescriptions, through Medicaid, or through payment for drugs for prison inmates, for example.
Eli Lilly had Zyprexa sales of $4.36 billion in 2006, accounting for almost 28% of the company's revenue. The company also makes $ billions on its diabetes drugs. Looks Eli Lilly just can't lose.
This week a funny little story has surfaced, illustrating just how hard it seems to be for this drug giant to tell the truth.
It seems that Eli Lilly has developed a new customer for Prozac—the family dog. The company has been marketing a drug called Reconcile, an SSRI anti-depressant, to treat separation anxiety in dogs.
But the company got a reprimanding letter from the FDA at the end of June, complaining that at least some of Eli Lilly's promotional material about Reconcile was misleading and incomplete.
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What Eli Lilly failed to disclose was that the dogs receiving Reconcile also received behavior modification training. Behavior modification training!
Nor did the advertising disclose that 51 percent of the dogs in the comparison group showed significant improvement by the end of the eight-week study and 18 percent showed significant improvement in the first week.
The Eli Lilly spokeswoman said the company would review the letter from the FDA and take steps "to be in 100 per cent compliance" with the FDA requirement.
You can't be blamed for concluding that it is all just a game to Eli Lilly.