Eli Lilly fined record 1.4B for Zyprexa marketing tactics

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by SRL, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    (CBS) Alicia Adams started taking Zyprexa for bipolar disorder when she was just 18 years old. In a matter of months, she ballooned from 93 pounds to 170 and developed severe diabetes.

    "The depression got worse," she said. "I closed myself off from everyone - stayed in my bedroom. I didn't do much of anything."

    Thursday, Eli Lilly, which makes Zyprexa, plead guilty to charges so egregious they're criminal: marketing the sometimes dangerous drug in ways never proven safe or effective, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

    Zyprexa is only FDA-approved to treat a specific bipolar disorder and severe schizophrenia. But millions have taken it for unapproved or so-called "off label" use, including:

    children in foster care
    people who have trouble sleeping
    elderly in nursing homes.

    Prosecutors say Eli Lilly engaged an army of thousands of sales representatives in widespread illegal marketing.

    They were "trained to use the slogan 'five at five,' meaning five milligrams at 5 o'clock at night will keep these elderly patients quiet," said Laurie Magid, acting U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania.

    Problem is: Zyprexa has serious side effects including weight gain, diabetes, even heart failure.

    Shahram Ahari is a former Eli Lilly sales rep and told his story for an education project for doctors.

    "Seizures, things like that have happened as well. And those are, you know, pretty catastrophic side effects to have in your patient," Ahari said.

    Eli Lilly has agreed to pay $1.4 billion, including the largest criminal fine ever imposed on a corporation. Ironically, that's about as much as the company's Zyprexa sales in the first quarter last year.
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    It's definitely upsetting to read a story like this, but I have to tell you, Zyprexa saved my daughter M's life. She would not eat at all because of a choking phobia, and Zyprexa targeted her severe anxiety and distorted thinking. Fortunately, her psychiatrist has monitored her blood every 6 months and her heart every year. So far, no medical problems whatsoever, and she's not even overweight. Clearly, I'd rather she not take such a potent and potentially dangerous medication, but the alternative wasn't exactly promising either.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    For some people zyprexa is a lifesaver, but that does NOT excuse the company from its' dangerous and misleading marketing tactics. My ex-sister in law had severe post-partum depression, we were terrified she would hurt herself or the baby. I forced my bro to take her to the OB/GYN and I insisted on sitting in on the meeting - I had been spending most days and some nights with her and my bro to make sure the baby was safe.

    She was rx'd Zyprexa and it made all the difference in the world.


    I was having problems with fibromyalgia, arthritis and severe migraines. A new to our town doctor who I had just started seeing rx'd zyprexa to prevent migraines. he said the rep showed stats that it really helped prevent migraines. I was desperate so I tried it.

    The doctor not only gave me too high a dose to start (2 times the normal starting dose) he also was using it WAY off label.

    I almost died from the ONE dose I took. My family stayed with me to make sure I was BREATHING.

    I think eli lilly has earned these fines and more for all of the ways they mislead doctors and patients. I just wish that they had been more scrupulous and honest from the beginning.

    For some, this is a wonder drug, for others it is a nightmare. But many medications are like this. The problem is in what the drug reps were trained to tell docs about the medications.

    drug reps have degrees in marketing, NOT in pharmacology or a medical field. My mom taught marketing and advised hundreds of students. Quite a few became reps for drug co's with-o ANY knowledge of science or medicine. They just had to be able to shmooze the docs and nurses and hand out samples, free stuff, and arrange free lunches and golf outings. They do get some training, and they do get info to pass out, but often the docs don't have time to actually READ all the literature so they rx based on what the drug co rep told them.

    It is scary to me. If you are on the medication, or have a child on the medication, please push your doctor to do the recommended testing.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Thanks, I'm glad both of you posted as I know very little about this medication. The bottom line is how important it is to educate oneself about the medications (purpose, side effects, dosages) that are prescribed, even before taking that first dosage.
  5. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I just hate reading this stuff, it will lead to hysterics. It will lead to shame for those of us who HAVE to use these medications. But it may also lead to better testing and more truths to come out.
    It is horrible for these companies to get away with this carp for so long.
    It is terrible that we have to use any medications, any of us, for our heads, bodies etc.
    You take a step back as you are taking your medications and think, who can I really trust?

    We take this walk with our kids blindly, hoping someone is being honest with us, or will be one day.
    Thanks SRL
  6. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    working in a pharmacy for a number of years opened my eyes to drugs and their effects. You'd be surprised at what the pharmacists know....

    Before taking ANY drug, make sure you ask your doctor questions, but don't forget about the pharmacist. They know more about the drug than your doctor does. You should make an informed decision on whether or not to follow the drug therapy...not take it just because your doctor told you it might help.

    Just my .02
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member


    It's not the first time that sort of thing has happened. I wonder if the chemists who develop these things ever find out what happens in marketing? They'd probably all have heart attacks.

    I love pharmacists! :)

    doctors. just get their info from sales reps. They're usually too busy to really read the info. Scary.
  8. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    If you're going to a psychiatrist who just gets his/her info from sales reps, you need to find another psychiatrist. I happen to know that our psychiatrists brush off the sales reps when they show up in their waiting rooms (I've seen it happen many a time). And that our psychiatrists get their info from reading the prescribing info and research studies in psychiatric journals, from attending conferences (including the annual AACAP conference) and from participating in clinical study groups with other psychiatrists.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Yeah, smallworld, that was one reason we LOVED our first psychiatrist. She refused ANY info from drug co reps, wouldn't let them bring in their lunches or give away their pens, hand sanitizer, tissues etc..... She DID take samples, but she would look up info on the medications right in front of us - AND give us copies from the PDR - and any medication was discussed in one appointment and not dispensed until the next one AFTER we had time to digest all the info on it.

    I hope that the drug companies learn from fines like this, but I strongly doubt it. I think it is often looked at as the cost of doing business - and you KNOW from all the fraudulent claims about neurontin that the drug co reps will not go back and re-educate the docs about what is true and what claims are false.

    I guess I am pretty cynical about the drug companies and their reps. About 2 times a MONTH they set up outside the main doctors bldg that is separate from the hospital and do a HUGE cookout for everyone in the building - giving away lots of free stuff, etc.... just to get docs to rx their medications.
  10. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    PDRs contain the exact information as package inserts. You can ask at the pharmacy for a copy of a package insert. They are also online.

    The docs I work for are family practice. While they do lunches a few days/week, there is 1 here that does not like reps or even taking drug samples. All his drug information comes from doing his own research. He might listen to what the reps have, but will reseach the drug on his own. To tell the truth ALL reps skew their info to make it look better than it is. While I'm sad to see the freebies go, I'm glad that the exposure won't be excessive in the waiting rooms as it has been.

    Now, if we could only get those drug company commercials off the TV.......
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Oh, Nancy, I am glad I am not the only one who wants the drug commercials off TV. There is nothing like settling down to watch a show with some popcorn and then hearing all those side effects like upset stomach, diarrhea, etc.... rattled off. AND I think it puts them out there more than they need to be.

    The copies from the PDR were given to us to read BEFORE we had the medicine prescribed. And this was almost 15 years ago and not all the info was as easily available then.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Nancy, that doctor is awesome.

    There is a movement to get our drug commercials off of TV. Don't know if it will work, since this is supposed to be a free mkt.
  13. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Funny how the ads started...........during the Superbowl. They advertised for Viagra:tongue:

    Yeah, if dr's would share more info it'd be great. But I have a feeling they don't because the patient isn't looking for it. I don't think most people would understand the doctor anyway if he went into detail. When I was at the pharmacy, I'd say roughly 5% would ask the pharmacist questions about new drugs. (and that's a high estimate)

    yes, you're right. I don't believe we had more than about 100 drugs back then either. LOL The explosion of drug approval in the last 10 years made it all so complicated!!!
  14. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Our psychiatrists require us to sign an informed consert form after explaining every new medication to us. We get great education on new medications. We also know our pharmacist well (mom-and-pop independent pharmacy), and he often stops to chat with me about the medications my kids are taking.
  15. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I have a pediatrician who is very cautious with medications and I've called into the office to verify dosages of medications prescribed by specialists before. I also agree that getting to know a local pharmacist is helpful.