A class action lawsuit was brought against Eli Lilly for marketing the drug Zyprexa for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A judge has ruled that the case is allowed to proceed. The plantiffs claim that the drug company was allowed to charge more for Zyprexa because of the marketing.
The lawsuit, brought by the New York-based Sergeants Benevolent Association Health and Welfare Fund and others, alleged that Eli Lilly illegally marketed Zyprexa for “off-label” purposes (i.e. for uses not approved by the FDA), as well as withholding information about Zyprexa’s safety and efficacy. Doctors may prescribe prescription drugs for “off-label” uses but drug companies are prohibited from marketing or promoting drugs for such uses. A 2006 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that more than 1 in 7 prescriptions for commonly-used drugs were for off-label uses that lacked scientific support. A study released in January 2007 by the federal Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research found that there was little scientific evidence to support the off-label use of Zyprexa and other atypical antipsychotics.
The judge in his ruling argued that this case and others like it may have an effect on the cost of pharmaceuticals, but that it is important for them to proceed in a court of law.