Oregon AG may lead multi-state class-action v. drugmaker: blogger

Legal News Line Jul. 11, 2007, 3:47am

SALEM -- It's looking more and more like back to the future for drug-maker Eli Lilly & Co. Just two years after spending $690 million to settle private class-action lawsuit, state attorneys- general are gearing up to file a Big Tobacco-style class action lawsuit against Lilly and its blockbuster mental-illness drug Zyprexa, a blogsite posting reported Wednesday. Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers joined a group of "leadership states" earlier this year aimed at filing a Multi-State class action lawsuit, according to blogger Philip Dawdy. His site - Furious Seasons - tracks the mental-health pharmaceutical sector. Eight different state AGs already have filed suit against Eli Lilly for so-called "off-label marketing" (touting its unapproved use) of Zyprexa, LNL reported in May. The suits also allege Lilly concurrently downplayed Zyprexa side-effect like higher diabetes risk. Utah, Pennsylvania and Montana have all filed such suits so far in 2007, joining Louisiana, Virginia, Mississippi and Alaska from 2006. All are seeking resitituion to their Medicaid and/or Medicare programs. A representative from Myers' office confirmed Tuesday that Oregon "is part of the leadership states (Executive Committee) for a multi-state case concerning Eli Lilly and Zyprexa", Dawdy reported. Myers would use in-house staff rather than private lawyers as Montana recently did, the official added. Just over two years ago, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly announced it had paid around $690 million to settle claims, including class-action lawsuits, over claims it minimized Zyprexa's side-effects. But Lilly also warned it would fight other legal claims against Zyprexa. "Claimants who are not covered by the final settlement are those represented by attorneys who are not participating in the agreement in principle," the staement warned. "Lilly is prepared to continue its vigorous defense of Zyprexa in the remaining cases. But a multi-state class action suit led by state attorneys-general could be a whole other ball of wax, as cigarette companies discovered in late nineties. Especially cases led by "aggressive" AGs like Myers, Dawdy's posting noted.

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