Attorney General John Kroger today announced that Oregon will receive $8.9 million from a national settlement with Eli Lilly over allegations that the pharmaceutical company engaged in an illegal marketing campaign of the anti-psychotic drug, Zyprexa. It is the single largest Medicaid Fraud judgment ever secured by the Oregon Department of Justice.
"I intend to be an aggressive consumer watchdog," Kroger said. "When big pharmaceutical companies violated the law, we will hold them accountable."
Zyprexa was the first of a newer generation of antipsychotic medications approved to treat certain severe psychological disorders. Government attorneys accused Eli Lilly of promoting the sale of Zyprexa for unapproved uses including depression, anxiety, irritability, disrupted sleep, nausea and gambling addiction.
Federal law prohibits pharmaceutical companies from promoting drugs for uses that are not approved by the FDA. Eli Lilly's promotional campaign, dubbed "Viva Zyprexa," caused physicians to prescribe Zyprexa for unapproved uses and unapproved doses for vulnerable Medicaid recipients, including children, adolescents and dementia patients in long term care facilities.
As part of its promotional campaign from 1999 to 2005, Eli Lilly also provided physicians and health care providers with cash and gifts, which are illegal Medicaid or Medicare are paying for prescriptions.
The settlement includes Oregon, other states and the federal government. Eli Lilly agreed to pay $800 million in damages and penalties to compensate Medicaid and various federal healthcare programs for harm suffered as a result of this conduct. The proceeds of the national case will be allocated to the participating states based upon actual Medicaid Program payments for Zyprexa.
The case was handled by Ellyn Sternfield, Attorney in Charge of the Oregon Department of Justice's Medicaid Fraud Unit.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 firstname.lastname@example.org