Hood looking on bright side of Zyprexa ruling

John O'Brien Dec. 2, 2009, 5:00pm


JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Despite Tuesday's bad news, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is remaining optimistic about his Zyprexa lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein granted Lilly summary judgment on many of Mississippi's claims, giving Hood, who is one of the few attorneys general with claims against the company not to have settled, a setback.

Weinstein stayed Mississippi's remaining claim pending the appeal of a third-party payer issue.

"While we are disappointed with Judge Weinstein's ruling on some of our claims, we are pleased that the Judge saw the merit in our claim for the millions of inflated drug costs Eli Lilly charged our state over the course of several years," Hood spokesperson Jan Schaefer said.

"We remain confident that our state will ultimately prevail."

Lilly spokesperson Marni Lemons called the remaining claim "a small portion" of Mississippi's suit.

Weinstein rejected the statistical analysis relied upon by Hood's attorneys, led by Houston firm Bailey Perrin Bailey, to show that the company harmed the state's Medicaid program.

"The ruling points out what Lilly has always believed: The law requires proof of wrongdoing in individual cases - not simple statistical evidence," Lemons said.

Weinstein wrote that a ruling in favor of Mississippi could have been dangerous.

"If allowed to proceed in their entirety, the State's claims could result in serious harm or bankruptcy for this defendant and the pharmaceutical industry generally," he wrote.

"For the legal system to be used for this slash-and-burn style of litigation would arguably constitute an abuse of the legal process. Constitutional, statutory and common law rights of those injured to seek relief from the courts must be recognized. But courts cannot be used as an engine of an industry's destruction."

Of the 12 states that did not settle their claims against Eli Lilly in a 33-state, $62-million agreement five have already made their settlements official and others have tentative agreements. The states that have settled are Connecticut, West Virginia, Idaho, Utah and South Carolina.

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.

Bailey Perrin, which donated $75,000 to Hood, is also representing the states of Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. None of those three states have finalized settlements, but Louisiana appears to have reached a tentative one. The other two cases are in state court and have not reached tentative settlements yet.

Montana, Minnesota New Mexico and Louisiana have but they have not been finalized. Their cases are before Weinstein.

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

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Mississippi Attorney General
550 High St Suite 1200
Jackson, MS 39201

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