Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel
By James Ridgeway
January 17, 2010
There really should be a special place in hell for pharmaceutical manufacturers who make money by exploiting the weakest and most vulnerable of patients: old people with dementia. I wrote about one such case back in April of last year:
Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly recently agreed to pay a record $1.4 billion dollars to settle charges that it illegally marketed the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa as a treatment for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in elderly patients. This despite the fact that the drug was not only unapproved for this “off-label” use, but had also been shown to cause obesity and diabetes.
Now, $1.4 billion might sound like a tough punishment, until you find out that Lilly’s total sales of Zyprexa have topped $37 billion. And at least some of those sales were thanks to doctors who, with guidance from Lilly drug reps, wrote thousands of prescriptions for patients with virtually no ability to defend themselves.
The steep fine against Lilly apparently didn’t discourage another drugmaker, Johnson & Johnson, from using even sleazier tactics to promote its own lucrative antipsychotic for use on nursing home residents. As the New York Times reported on Friday:
Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to the nation’s largest nursing home pharmacy to increase the number of elderly patients taking the antipsychotic Risperdal and several other medications, according to a complaint filed Friday by the office of the United States attorney in Boston.
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