Jim Gottstein: Psychiatric survivor,
by David W. Oaks
last modified 2007-01-08 17:58
Update 22: 7 Jan. 2007 5 pm EST -- Eli Lilly tries to expand a court gag order to include free speech on the MindFreedom web site about their formerly-secret Zyprexa documents. MindFreedom appears in court for a second time tomorrow to defend the public right to know. MindFreedom's attorney calls for criminal prosecution of Eli Lilly executives.
7 Jan. 2007 5 pm EST.
Update 22: MindFreedom Attorney Argues in Court Against Eli Lilly Censorship, Calls for Criminal Prosecution of Eli Lilly Executives
Eli Lilly Tries to Expand Gag Order to Ban Posting to this MindFreedom Website Details About Widespread Availability of Zyprexa Files.
MFI Attorney Ted Chabasinski Says Eli Lilly is "Guilty of Murder."
BROOKLYN, NY: MindFreedom's attorney Ted Chabasinski appears for a second time in court tomorrow, 8 Jan. 2007, to defend the public's right to know about the contents of formerly-secret files about Eli Lilly's psychiatric drug Zyprexa. This time Ted defends the right of MindFreedom to have free speech on this web site to provide complete and accurate news about the controversy.
Courageous attorney Jim Gottstein (photo at top) originally leaked these documents to the press in December, resulting in three pieces in the NY Times. The Zyprexa files prove that Eli Lilly leaders knew that their psychiatric drug caused life-threatening metabolic problems such as severe weight gain and diabetes, but tried to keep this fact secret for a decade. The files also prove that Eli Lilly trained sales reps to mislead family and other primary care doctors into prescribing the drug for conditions in ways never approved by the US Food & Drug Administration.
Zyprexa is one of the "neuroleptic" psychiatric drugs that is often administered against the clients' wishes using court orders without providing non-drug alternatives.
This past week Eli Lilly settled 18,000 court cases about Zyprexa for up to $500 million, but argued that the court files ought to be kept sealed and secret. "Eli Lilly's decade of cover-up about Zyprexa inside doctors' offices and courtrooms continues to this day," said Mindfreedom director David Oaks, "But this time Eli Lilly wants to extend its cover-up into the court of public opinion. We applaud all who challenge Eli Lilly's pharma-censorship in nonviolent ways."
Senior Judge Jack Weinstein of the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York agreed to MindFreedom's request to set a hearing for Tues, 16 January 2007 on the whole controversy of suppressing the Zyprexa files. Judge Weinstein said he was taking "no position" about those who were not named in the court order who already had copies of the Eli Lilly files about Zyprexa.
Tomorrow's special court hearing on 8 January is to challenge the way Eli Lilly slipped additional wording into a third court order without due process that could ban not only posting copies of the secret Zyprexa files on the web for download, but could ban even discussing on this web site details of the widspread availability of their files.
Journalist Evelyn Pringle is covering the controversy with a series of articles published by OpEdNews:
Eli Lilly Charged with "Pharma-Censorship"
On 4 January 2007 Judge Weinstein signed a third "Temporary Restraining Order" (TRO) mainly as a continuance to the 16 January hearing. This new TRO was supposed to mainly re-state the wording of the last two TRO's. But Eli Lilly's attorney slipped new additional wording in without giving other attorneys a chance to challenge it, as required by law.
The first two TRO's prohibited named individuals and their groups from "disseminating" or "posting" the Eli Lilly files. This third TRO names MindFreedom International and introduces new language that "enjoins the named individuals, organizations and entities from posting information to websites to facilitate dissemination of these documents."
Eli Lilly claimed in the court hearing that it's not too late to keep their documents secret. In a transcript from the 3 January court hearing, Eli Lilly's attorney told the judge, "The Internet is a very large place, your Honor, but we can tell you that we see no evidence of widespread dissemination." MindFreedom's attorney argues that "thousands" of people already have the documents.
Since even the judge wondered if a court order to suppress these documents is "futile" Eli Lilly is apparently turning to a "fear factor" to target its critics.
"MindFreedom is not posting information facilitating the dissemination of Eli Lilly documents on our web site," said Director, David Oaks. "We never offered these documents for download on our web site. We offer no links for download. In court, Eli Lilly quoted from our web site about this fact to falsely claim their secret files can still be kept secret. But the reality is their documents are already widely disseminated to thousands and are still available. Eli Lilly is trying to chill free speech by slipping in wording to squash news coverage on the MindFreedom web site of details and scope of the widespread dissemination of their documents."
Chabasinksi protested to Judge Weinstein in a 1/4/07 letter about how Eli Lilly illegally slipped in additional unapproved language into this third TRO.
"While MindFreedom is not encouraging any illegal activities, everyone is encouraged to challenge Eli Lilly's attempts at censorship by forwarding news alerts protected by the First Amendment both on and off the Internet," said Oaks. "Proving beyond any doubt that there is widespread dissemination of these Zyprexa documents may help end Eli Lilly's attempt to suppress free speech once and for all."
Eli Lilly also filed documents under the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" to try to shut down a wiki, not owned by MindFreedom, that has been providing news and discussions about this controversy, even though copyright is irrelevant to this controversy: http://zyprexa.pbwiki.com. An attorney from the Electronic Freedom Foundation representing a participant on that web site is now joining the court battle. The wiki is still up. Fred von Lohmann, attorney for EFF, has filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the court on behalf of an author on the wiki.
If the Zyprexa documents are already so widely disseminated, then why is Eli Lilly still targeting critics? The press is reporting that lawsuits against Eli Lilly about Zyprexa may eventually reach more than one billion dollars, but there may be something Eli Lilly fears worse than cash settlements it can afford: Mass publicity about evidence of their crimes for the purpose of public education and criminal prosecution.
In a 2 Jan. 2007 letter to Judge Weinstein, MindFreedom attorney Ted Chabasinksi (photo on right) says this to the judge about Eli Lilly executives:
"While the underlying case is civil, what these documents show is CRIMINAL behavior on the part of Lilly's executives. They have chosen a course of action, lying about and hiding the real effects of Zyprexa, that they knew would lead to the injury and death of literally thousands of people. If this isn't criminal, I don't know what is."
MindFreedom has launched a campaign to encourage Americans to file an urgent complaint about Eli Lilly illegalities regarding Zyprexa with their state's attorney general. Here's a list of contact information that includes newly elected AG's: http://naag.org/attorneys_general.php
Background on Eli Lilly's Secret Zyprexa Files
Attorney Jim Gottstein, founder of PsychRights, began the furor by courageously making suppressed Zyprexa documents available to a number of activists and journalists resulting in three recent pieces in the NY Times.
Eli Lilly sought and obtained its first court gag order on 18 December 2006, that one requiring Jim Gottstein to cease and desist from disseminating any of the files about Eli Lilly. Jim complied. The court also required Jim to save all copies of his email for possible examination by the courts.
While Jim disputes the validity of the injunction against him to suppress the Eli Lilly files, he is asking everyone to return the documents as required by that first court order here: http://psychrights.org/States/Alaska/CaseXX/EilLilly/InjuctionOrder.pdf
In the last week of December a grassroots campaign began to successfully make these documents from Eli Lilly called "ZyprexaKills" widely available using multiple web sites, CD's, DVD's, e-mail (by breaking the files into pieces) and a sophisticated Internet privacy system called Tor created by the Electronic Freedom Foundation. It is estimated that thousands of individuals have downloaded or otherwise obtained the suppressed materials which in compressed form is said to be about 269 megs.
Eli Lilly tried to target web sites that directly offered downloads of their files. A copy of e-mail between Eli Lilly and MindFreedom member Eric Whalen (in which Eli Lilly mentions MindFreedom) is here. Eric said he complied with Eli Lilly's request. According to a reliable anonymous source, there are definitely other sites that are still available for download to this day.
Ted Chabasinksi, a human rights activist and psychiatric survivor on the MindFreedom board, commented, "I'm an attorney, and I think the reason Lilly is panicking is that these documents literally show a conspiracy to commit murder. People talk about how these documents show that Lilly committed fraud. They do. But more importantly, if someone deliberately does something that they know will cause the death of another person, they have committed a homicide -- murder. Lying about the effects of Zyprexa has led to the deaths of many people."
Eli Lilly expanded its list of targets in a second 29 December "temporary restraining order" naming several MindFreedom activists including Eric Whalen. Eli Lilly apparently obtained some of the names for this second court gag order from a "compliance certificate" by Gottstein in which he complied with Eli Lilly's first order to stop disseminating the information. A PDF copy of the PsychRights Compliance Certificate is here.
"The genie is out of the bottle. But Eli Lilly is still paying their attorneys to try to cover-up evidence of their fraud," said David Oaks, director of MindFreedom International. "This is reminiscent of the way the Nixon administration tried to keep the Pentagon Papers secret even after the materials were in the hands of the NY Times."
Eli Lilly attorneys named and quoted MindFreedom in correspondence and letters, including to Judge Weinstein. Even though the New York Times is known to have copies of the Zyprexa documents, and published information about the files to millions of people, Eli Lilly has never named The New York Times in any of its court filings. "This appears to be about Eli Lilly using its billions of dollars to try to intimidate grassroots critics," said MindFreedom director David Oaks.
Said Ted, "Since Lilly does business in almost all states, and since people died as a result of Lilliy's behavior as evidenced by these documents, if there were a courageous prosecutor somewhere who saw these documents, conceivably Lilly's executives could go to jail."
Details on the unfolding court case can be found on PsychRights web site at http://www.psychrights.org.
Updated Disclaimer by MindFreedom:
At the advice of MindFredom International's attorney Ted Chabasinski, MindFreedom is complying with the Temporary Restraining Order signed 4 Jan. 2007 by Judge Weinstein of U.S. District Court. MFI has not and is not disseminating Eli Lilly documents regarding its psychiatric drug Zyprexa. MindFreedom has never posted these documents on its web site. By this news alert, MindFreedom is providing a link to a copy of the 1/4/07 TRO to any and all who may have these documents. MFI is not posting information to websites to facilitate dissemination or downloading of Eli Lilly documents about Zyprexa.
Actions You May Take:
- Please contact US state attorneys general, direct their attention to the NY Times articles and existence of the secret Zyprexa files, and ask for criminal prosecution of Eli Lilly executives.
- You may join and open and public e-mail list, not sponsored by MFI, that is discussing this grassroots campaign: http://lists.acm.jhu.edu/mailman/listinfo/zyprexa-discuss
- Please spread the word about this controversy to oall appropriate places on and off the Internet.
- You may sign up to receive occasional public e-mail news alerts from MindFreedom about this issue and campaigns for human rights and alternatives in the mental health system.