The Bitter Pill

The Official Blog of UNITE –

PsychRights Stands Up For Kids in Alaska


On Sept. 2, 2008, Psych Rights Law Project, headed by Jim Gottstein, Esq, filed an important, potentially landmark lawsuit against the State of Alaska to Stop the massive use of harmful brain-altering psychiatric drugs on Alaskan children.  

The suit seeks Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for the administration of psychotropic medication to children and youth in the custody of, or paid for by, the State of Alaska.

See this link. 

The suit lays out the scientific evidence of harm produced by psychotropic drugs in children. The documented evidence about these drugs’ hazards has been collated by Critical Risk Rx, a curriculum for mental health professionals designed by Dr. David Cohen, Professor at Florida International University–who is an officer of the Alliance of Human Research Protection (AHRP). 

The purpose of Critical Risk Rx is to promote critical thinking skills about psychiatric medication issues CriticalThinkRx offers an alternative perspective to the drugging of children based on empirical evidence. Its goal is to stimulate “critical thinking” and a more balanced evaluation of the “prescription situation”
based on ethical codes of practice of medical and non-medical helping professions. The curriculum aims to sharpen critical skills of mental health and child welfare professionals assessing and practicing with children and adolescents who may be medicated with psychiatric drugs. 

Two days later, on Sept. 4, federal Judge Jack Weinstein reiterated his July

“There is sufficient evidence of fraud” by Lilly in selling the drug to justify a jury trial in a 294-page decision.

Indeed, tens of thousands of Zyprexa users, investors and third-party payors filed suits, including: 30,000 personal injury claims; civil and criminal cases filed by attorneys general. A securities class action recently dismissed as time barred by Weinstein; and the present class action, initiated on behalf of tens of thousands of insurers and unions. 

In his latest ruling, Judge Weinstein gave class-action status to a case brought by insurance companies, pension funds and unions that seek billions of dollars from Lilly for overpayment for the drug. The judge certified the case as a class action on the RICO claims for all plaintiffs except individual patients who bought the drug, rejecting Lilly arguments that the pension funds, union and insurance companies had claims too different to be tried together. These plaintiffs, so-called “third-party payors,” bought the drug for members or customers.

Furthermore, Judge Weinstein ordered Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa documents to be unsealed and made publicly available, stating: 

“Lilly’s legitimate interest in confidentiality does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure at this stage…the health of hundreds of thousands of people, fundamental questions about our system of approval and monitoring of pharmaceutical products, and the funding for many health and insurance benefit plans.”

Until the unsealing of these documents, AHRP board members, Dr. David Cohen (Secretary) and Vera Sharav (President) were enjoined by Judge Weinstein from disseminating the Zyprexa documents. On August 20, 2008, Attorney, Alan Millstein filed an order on behalf of Dr. Cohen and Mrs. Sharav, requesting a Hearing on the Motion of the Alliance for Human Research Protection requesting publication of a limited number of confidential documents.

Fifteen law firms are involved, contending that Lilly hid the side effects of Zyprexa and marketed it for unapproved uses. 

The 350 sealed Zyprexa documents are significant in providing (partial) evidence of the company’s illegal marketing tactics. The documents show that Lilly promoted a drug they knew was toxic—-their experts warned about its toxic effects, in particular Zyprexa’s propensity to induce acute weight gain triggering metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Yet, the company embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign–Viva Zyprexa–for off-label unapproved uses of the drug. 

However, Judge Weinstein immediately stayed the unsealing order to give Lilly a chance to appeal it. 

The count so far, in State lawsuits against Eli Lilly charging the company with illegal marketing of Zyprexa (olanzapine) is 11:

Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

6 State suits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson/ Jansen over marketing of Risperdal (risperidone): 

Arkansas, Louisiana, MontanaPennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas 

4 State suits against AstraZeneca over the marketing of Seroquel

Arkansas, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina 

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav

Filed under: Medicaid Drugging, , , , ,

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