The State of Mississippi may not have proven its case for penalties against Eli Lilly over Medicaid-funded Zyprexa use, but the judge's ruling in the case doesn't let Lilly completely off the hook. In a 117-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Weinstein acknowledged that Lilly had targeted elderly folks with dementia as potential Zyprexa users, despite the fact that the drug wasn't FDA-approved for that use, BNet Pharma points out.
Weinstein's ruling outlines Lilly's strategy of pressuring primary care doctors to prescribe Zyprexa even if they didn't have an actual psychiatric diagnosis--and even if the doctor felt unqualified to treat patients for whom Zyprexa was intended. "Even if the doctor does not have diagnosis, he should treat anyway," according to an email cited in the decision. "You are their last hope before the nursing home ... " another sales script read.
Lilly has faced some 40 lawsuits filed by states trying to collect on past Medicaid expenses. The company has wrapped up a 33-state, $62 million settlement and has made deals with five states, while several others have tentative agreements, Pharmalot reports. Mississippi is the first state to have most of its claims tossed by a judge.
Just what was Weinstein's reasoning? "If allowed to proceed in their entirety, the state's claims could result in serious harm or bankruptcy for this defendant and the pharmaceutical industry generally," he wrote (as quoted by Pharmalot). Besides, even if Zyprexa patients suffered serious side effects, the state probably saved "large sums" by using the drug, "by preventing users ... from requiring hospitalization in state facilities, and allowing them to become productive taxpayers and participants in the economy." Mississippi can still attempt to prove Lilly charged the state more than Zyprexa was worth, according to Pharmalot.