Shurtleff announces Zyprexa settlement

John O'Brien Nov. 11, 2009, 5:00pm


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Legal Newsline) - Eli Lilly & Co. is paying $24 million to settle Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's Zyprexa lawsuit, leaving seven states with claims against the prescription drug giant.

It is the largest amount recovered from a pharmaceutical company for the State of Utah, one of 12 states that didn't participate in a 33-state, $62-million settlement. The suit alleged off-label marketing, as well as weight gain-related side effects like hypertension and diabes.

"Drug companies are an important part of our health care system," Shurtleff said. "But when they engage in illegal marketing practices they are endangering the health and safety of patients."

Shurtleff hired private attorneys to pursue the case, though it is unclear how much they will make. Neither Shurtleff's office nor Eli Lilly responded to a message seeking a copy of the settlement.

Shurtleff raised a few eyebrows when he awarded the contract to Siegfriend & Jensen.

The firm has donated $58,000 to Shurtleff and hired his daughter to work as a paralegal on Zyprexa and Vioxx cases. Shurtleff's daughter only worked for the firm for less than a year, quitting to give birth and spend time with her child.

Of the 12 states that did not settle their claims against Eli Lilly in the 33-state, Connecticut settled for $25.1 million, and West Virginia settled for more than $22 million ($6.75 went to outside counsel hired by state Attorney General Darrell McGraw), Idaho settled its case for $13 million ($2.5 went to outside counsel) and South Carolina settled for $45 million (more than $6.5 million went to outside counsel).

The firm representing South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster's office had contributed to his campaign, but he returned the funds.

Eli Lilly has paid $1.4 billion to settle federal civil and criminal claims stemming from alleged off-label marketing.

The payment also benefited the Medicaid programs of more than 30 states that collectively received approximately $362 million.

Most of the remaining states have reached tentative settlements that have not been made final.

Only Mississippi has not reached at least a tentative settlement from a group of states that had claims in federal court. The others were West Virginia, Connecticut, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Louisiana and Idaho.

South Carolina's case was litigated in state court, as was Utah's. Pennsylvania and Arkansas have cases remaining in state courts.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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