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Lilly ghost-wrote articles to market drug, files say.

Eli Lilly & Co. (Indianapolis IN) officials wrote medical journal studies about the antipsychotic Zyprexa and then asked doctors to put their names on the articles, a practice called "ghostwriting," according to unsealed company files. Lilly employees also compiled a guide to hiring scientists to write favorable articles, complained to journal editors when publication was delayed and submitted rejected articles to other outlets, according to documents filed in drug overpricing suits against the company, the largest manufacturer of psychiatric medicines. Drugmaker use of ghostwriters has created "a huge body of medical literature that society can't trust," said Carl Elliott, a University of Minnesota bioethicist who has written about the practice. Lilly sought to make Zyprexa "the number one selling psychotropic in history," according to a 2000 plan distributed to its product team. The memo was among more than 10,000 pages of internal documents unsealed last month in lawsuits by insurers and pension funds seeking to recoup monies spent on the drug. They allege Lilly exaggerated Zyprexa's effectiveness.

Lilly isn't the only drugmaker to use ghostwriters to win favorable play in medical journals. Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station NJ) and Pfizer Inc. (New York) also have faced claims they used ghostwriters as part of their marketing plans. In May 2008, Merck agreed to pay $58 million to 29 states and stop ghostwriting articles to resolve claims that its advertisements for the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx hid the drug's health risks. Pfizer paid $60 million to 33 states in October to settle claims it improperly marketed its Bextra and Celebrex pain relievers. Pfizer agreed to halt off-label marketing of the medicines and stop ghostwriting about them. It withdrew Bextra in April 2005. Celebrex is still on the market. The Lilly case is UFCW Local 1776 and Participating Employers Health and Welfare Fund v. Eli Lilly & Co., 05-04115, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
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Title Annotation:CORPORATE; Eli Lilly & Co.
Date:Jun 15, 2009
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