States step up Zyprexa marketing probe

Eli Lilly has been asked by state prosecutors in Illinois and Vermont to turn over information about the way it promoted its Zyprexa antipsychotic drug, reports The New York Times. The Illinois attorney general’s office demanded that Lilly release marketing materials, e-mail messages, and other documents with information about promotion of Zyprexa. Vermont investigators issued a similar order. The states are part of a coordinated five-state civil investigation into the way Lilly promoted Zyprexa, notes the Times. The states are investigating whether Lilly tried to hide Zyprexa’s risk of causing weight gain and other risks associated with diabetes and whether the company promoted Zyprexa for off-label uses. In a statement, Lilly said it would cooperate with the investigations and had done nothing wrong. Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia also have recently escalated their own investigation into Lilly’s marketing of Zyprexa. Among other state-level investigations, attorneys general in California and Florida may seek to recover Medicaid payments that the states made for Zyprexa. The commercial success of the drug could mean any fine or cost recovery could be sizable. Zyprexa had sales of $4.2 billion last year and about $30 billion since its introduction in 1996. A review of documents in the Times last month claimed Lilly played down the risks of Zyprexa to doctors and that it encouraged off-label use. Lilly has denied any wrongdoing and said it provided all relevant information to doctors and regulators. The company has also said it did not promote Zyprexa for conditions other than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.