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Louisiana gets $20M in Lilly drug settlement

April 7, 2010

Louisiana will receive $20 million in a settlement with pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly and Co. over its marketing of the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa, the state attorney general said Wednesday.

Louisiana was one of 13 states that filed individual suits in state courts over allegations that Indianapolis-based Lilly pushed the drug for uses that had not been approved by federal regulators.

Lilly spokeswoman Marni Lemons said Louisiana is the 11th state to settle. Other states that have settled are Alaska, West Virginia, Connecticut, Utah, Idaho, South Carolina, New Mexico, Mississippi, Arkansas and Montana. Suits filed by Minnesota and Pennsylvania are pending, Lemons said.

Lilly paid a $1.4 billion settlement to the federal government in January 2009 after admitting it had promoted Zyprexa for treatment of dementia in the elderly.

Zyprexa has been approved to treat psychological problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders in adults only

Louisiana's suit alleged that Lilly marketed the drug for use with children and in other "off-label" uses as treating depression, attention deficit disorder, sleeping problems, anger and stabilizing moods.

"This settlement sends a clear message to pharmaceutical companies that improper and illegal marketing of drugs will not be tolerated in Louisiana," Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell said in a statement.

Caldwell said about $17 million will go into the state's general fund, while about $3 million will go toward reimbursement of the state's Medicaid fund, which paid to treat health problems of people taking the drug for unapproved purposes.

Lilly will pay an undisclosed amount of attorney fees to private attorneys hired by the state to handle the case, Caldwell said. None of the state's recovery is being used to pay attorneys, he said.

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