Eli Lilly case goes forward

John O'Brien Nov. 21, 2008, 3:15pm

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - It looks like a federal judge's suggestion that a group of state attorneys general and a major pharmaceutical company reach a settlement has gone unheeded.

Following a 33-state settlement, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein told the six state attorneys general in a remaining claim against Eli Lilly & Co. to take a month off to hammer out an agreement.

That was Oct. 21, and on Wednesday Eli Lilly filed a motion for an extension of time to complete discovery which included a suggested revised case schedule. Thursday, the attorneys general filed a notice concerning their expert witnesses.

The case involves Eli Lilly's marketing of antipsychotic drug Zyprexa.

"Every effort should be made to settle all pending cases brought by attorneys general which are before this court, and any other like cases in federal or state court," Weinstein wrote a month ago.

"It would be useful to settle all pending attorney general claims at the same time since the issues in each are much the same. Further delays will unnecessarily increase transactional costs.

"In view of the applicable statute of limitations, it is unlikely that any new cases can be brought successfully. A global settlement of all cases, including those pending in state courts, is desirable."

Eli Lilly already agreed to pay $62 million to 32 states and the District of Columbia to resolve claims that the company marketed Zyprexa for off-label uses. The attorneys general also argued Zyprexa caused weight gain that resulted in diabetes in users, harming their respective states' Medicaid programs.

It was the largest consumer protection-based multi-state settlement with a pharmaceutical company, but 11 states chose not to participate.

Instead, the 11 attorneys general are asking for a total exceeding $1 billion, according to court documents.

"While most states have settled their cases against Lilly for a few million dollars each, the states with cases now pending in this court -- Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia -- are seeking, on essentially the same theories and evidence, many billions of dollars in damages in fines," Weinstein wrote.

Idaho's case is in the process of being transferred in with the federal court group. States with suits pending in state courts are Arkansas, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at john@legalnewsline.com.

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