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West Virginia Attorney General Sues Eli Lilly: Fraud

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The West Virginia Record
Thursday, March 23, 2006
By Steve Korris - Point Pleasant Bureau

POINT PLEASANT - Eli Lilly and Company committed fraud on the people of West Virginia in selling the drug Zyprexa, Attorney General Darrell McGraw claims in a suit he filed Feb. 28 in Mason Circuit Court.

McGraw seeks to stop Eli Lilly's deceptive practices, collect damages, and create a fund for those who will develop diabetes and other diseases from taking Zyprexa.

McGraw's complaint states that the Food and Drug Administration approved Zyprexa for schizophrenia and bipolar mania but doctors prescribe it for other uses.

The complaint states that Zyprexa is the largest selling atypical antipsychotic in the world and the most widely prescribed antipsychotic in the United States.

"West Virginia's Department of Health and Human Services has paid at least $70 million for Zyprexa in its Medicaid program since 1996," the complaint states.

It says studies have linked Zyprexa to diabetes since 1998.

It alleges that sales representatives misled and deceived doctors about the safety and the efficacy of Zyprexa.

It alleges that advertisements deceptively understated risks and overstated benefits.

It alleges that Lilly promoted "off label" prescriptions for anxiety, sleep disruption, mood swings, attention deficit hyperactivity and dementia.

As a result of these actions, according to McGraw, Lilly sold more Zyprexa than it would have sold if it had disclosed the risk of diabetes and other diseases.

"Lilly benefited from its misrepresentations and fraudulent conduct by gaining sales of Zyprexa at the expense of other, safe, effective drugs," the complaint states.

"The money paid by the State would not have been paid to Lilly except for its fraudulent conduct," it states.

McGraw seeks three times the amount of the alleged overpayments plus civil penalties, restitution, reimbursement and creation of a fund to pay for future medical care.

He also seeks reasonable attorney fees along with other costs and fees.

Circuit Judge David Nibert will hear the case.

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