Company news

November 24, 2010

Eli Lilly and Co. said that next year, for the first time, it would hire an outside firm to search for state disciplinary actions against its hired speakers and advisers, after reporting by New York-based ProPublica found that Lilly was paying more than 100 physicians who had been under state sanctions. Indianapolis-based Lilly and British firm GlaxoSmithKline plc had the most state-sanctioned physicians among their speakers and advisers out of the seven pharmaceutical companies that ProPublica scrutinized. For example, Lilly used cardiologist Ali Sherzoy as a speaker, paying him more than $4,300 in the first two quarters of this year. But Sherzoy had his license suspended in New York and New Jersey early this year after he pleaded guilty to one count of criminal sexual contact in 2008. Sherzoy said the matter involved his family's nanny and not his practice. He said he pleaded guilty on his lawyer's advice to put the matter behind him.

A trade group of health insurers, which includes Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86.2 million in August 2009 to wage a campaign against the health reform law being debated by Congress, according to Bloomberg News. The bill eventually was passed and became law in March 2010. The money came from America’s Health Insurance Plans and exceeded its entire budget for the previous year, according to Bloomberg. The $86.2 million paid for advertisements, polling and grass-roots events to drum up opposition to the bill. The Chamber said in a statement it used the funds to “advance a market-based health care system and advocate for fundamental reform that would improve access to quality care while lowering costs.” A WellPoint spokesman declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Teams of researchers at Indiana University and Purdue University both made striking medical breakthroughs recently. Purdue researchers found evidence that an environmental pollutant may play an important role in causing multiple sclerosis and that a hypertension drug might be used to treat the disease. They noticed that the toxin acrolein was elevated by about 60 percent in the spinal cord tissues of mice with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis. Acrolein is found in tobacco smoke and auto exhaust. Previous studies by this research team found that neuronal death caused by acrolein can be prevented by administering the hypertension drug hydralazine, also known as Apresoline. At the IU School of Medicine, researchers induced a complete remission of metastatic melanoma in mice when they introduced a potent anti-tumor gene into the stem cells in bone marrow that produce all blood and immune system cells. IU’s research has now led to a small clinical trial of 12 patients in late 2011.

L.H. Medical Corp. will add 65 jobs in Fort Wayne by 2013 as it expands its production of custom medical-device components for the orthopedic implant industry. The company will move to a new facility and begin hiring manufacturing workers and engineers early next year. Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered L.H. Medical up to $550,000 in performance-based tax credits and up to $60,000 in training grants. Also, Allen County officials will consider an additional property tax abatement.

Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., which operates three hospitals in the Indianapolis area, has decided to change its name to Franciscan Alliance. The Mishawaka-based system, which has 13 hospitals in Indiana and Illinois, announced the decision of its board of directors Monday morning. The announcement comes after months of consumer research—and six months after rival system Clarian Health said it would change its name to Indiana University Health. Beginning in early 2011, all St. Francis hospitals will have the name Franciscan added to their logos, with the previous name of each hospital written below it.