By David Glenn Cox
Department of Homeland Security has upped its threat level. Agents are
scouring the country in search of dangerous right wing extremists. For
the second time in two weeks, Americans have been gunned down in the
peaceful pursuit of their lives.
Bad men, crazy people, everywhere! Extremists, God help us!
Bloomberg reports a U.S. District Court Judge has allowed law suits
to move forward against Eli Lilly, the drug company is accused of
selling and encouraging physicians to prescribe the drug Zyprexa for
uses never proven or approved by the FDA. It’s called off-labeling; it
is used to goose profits by expanding a drug’s target population by
pushing its effectiveness against symptoms rather than illness.
In 1995, clinical trials of Zyprexa showed that the drug was
ineffective in treating dementia in older patients. The only
FDA-approved use of Zyprexa is in the treatment of schizophrenia, and
that would have relegated Zyprexa to the backwaters of the
pharmaceutical rivers. In the seven studies Lilly presented to the FDA,
it was shown the Zyprexa had absolutely no benefit whatsoever in the
treatment of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
But hey, this is America; it’s all just a matter of marketing. We
have wars to keep you safe from people who live in mud huts. And
campaigns to keep a Muslim country from getting nuclear power when it’s
surrounded by countries that do have nuclear power. It’s not what they
do; it’s what we say they will do.
Last year Zyprexa was Lilly’s most profitable drug, racking up $4.7
billion in sales. God bless America, only in America (patriotic music
here) could a drug totally ineffective at what it is being prescribed
for become number one in sales!
The judge released 10,000 pages of documents that tell a tale of
for-profit medicine as cold and calculating as robbing the fillings
from a corpse. Revealed was a 2002 business plan encouraging sales reps
to press doctors to prescribe the drug to elderly patients for insomnia
and mood swings. Ironically, one of the suggested symptoms to treat was
Lilly marketed the drug to primary care physicians and long-term
care facilities. Ever seeking to expand the market they added the
treatment to post traumatic stress disorder and sleep difficulties. By
2006 Lilly executives were rolling in cash and the company’s goal was
$6 billion in sales. In 2002, Lilly researcher Peter Feldman sent
E-mails to his boss Denice Torres, the company’s global marketing
He said that they were going to stop studying Zyprexa’s potential
health benefits for elderly consumers. That would risk “killing the
goose that lays the golden eggs to save on poultry feed costs,” Feldman
said in the unsealed messages.
Ha ha, nothing better than a comic researcher, is there? Except
maybe an all-business marketing director. “Elderly remains an important
aspect of target PT and affiliate focus,” Torres answered in the
“For two consecutive years, you have been on top and have turned in
above-plan performance,” Grady Grant, Lilly’s national sales director,
wrote to his salespeople in the newsletter.
“Once again you have all shown that (LTC) long term care is a
driving force for Zyprexa in the US affiliate in 2002,” Mike Murray,
another Lilly executive, wrote in the newsletter. “We must continue to
accelerate the growth of Zyprexa.”
A nice pat on the head from the boss man and fat sales commissions can do wonders for sales
One sales representative wrote in a March 7, 2003, note that she’d
persuaded a doctor to write Zyprexa prescriptions for use in “elderly
pts, help sleep and irritability.” Another asked a doctor to try
Zyprexa “in elderly who are not thinking clearly and are suspicious and
hostile,” according to an Aug. 31, 2001, note.
Only in America could not thinking clearly and being suspicious and
hostile be considered a symptom! Using that logic you could drug most
of this society. But were this just a case of selling sugar pills to
Granny and Boom Pa it could be forgiven. America’s shelves are full of
medicines and pseudo medicines and treatments and supplements that at
best might help a little, and at worst might deplete your wallet. But
Zyprexa kills. Deaths for those taking Zyprexa were “significantly
greater than placebo-treated patients (3.5 percent v. 1.5 percent,
Now take $4.7 billion in annual sales and do the death math. But
hey, they were making money, right? So who goes to jail? Go to jail?
Why, nobody’s going to jail, now or ever! This isn’t about wild-eyed
extremists filled with hate and rage answering God’s call to kill. This
is about nice capitalists in nice three-piece suits and ties killing
the elderly for fun and profit. Illegally and immorally pushing a drug
knowing full well in advance that it was dangerous and without any
benefit to the patient.
Jail? No, this is America; we just want our money back. Only bad men, extremists and wild-eyed fanatics go to jail.
Lilly has already paid out $1.2 billion for 32,000 individual
claims; the company faces further lawsuits by twelve states seeking
damages. The company agreed in January to pay $1.4 billion to thirty
states and this total included a $615 million fine levied by the
federal government. Damages from pending lawsuits could reach another
$6.8 billion, but with sales of $4 billion a year for seven years there
is little monetary loss for the company.
“”Plaintiffs are releasing one-sided, cherry-picked documents
obtained in discovery to selected news media in an effort to try their
cases in the media,” said Lilly spokeswoman Marni Lemons, who added
that the company will fight the lawsuit.
From a Lily sales memo from 2001: “With most customers, we will
continue to address the diabetes concern only when it arises. Get back
Go to jail? Don’t be ridiculous, no one is going to jail. Only bad
men, extremists and wild-eyed fanatics go to jail. This is just doing
business in America.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.