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Whistle-Blower's Perspective on Lilly Case


Health & Wellness  (tags: abuse, death, disease, drugs, ethics, government, healthcare, health, illness, investigation, safety, risks, protection, research, study, science, warning, humans, treatment, medicine )

Sue
- 2134 days ago - philly.com
Robert Rudolph knew he was about to end his lucrative career at Eli Lilly & Co., but he had to say something. Why, he asked management, was the Indianapolis pharmaceutical company marketing its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa to elderly people when the drug



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sue M. (184)
Tuesday January 20, 2009, 10:45 pm
Robert Rudolph knew he was about to end his lucrative career at Eli Lilly & Co., but he had to say something.

Why, he asked management, was the Indianapolis pharmaceutical company marketing its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa to elderly people when the drug was not approved for that group?

Why had the company violated privacy rules by culling patient lists at doctors' offices?

Why was the company counting drug samples as sales, which would boost the stock price?

He went on for about 10 minutes during a sales meeting in 2002. The other 25 Lilly sales representatives stared at him, stunned.

"I'd just been wrestling with this stuff for so long," he said in a telephone interview today. "I was put in a position of breaking the law, in my view, or quitting."

Rudolph and eight other whistle-blowers brought their allegations to federal prosecutors. That led Lilly to agree Thursday to a record $1.4 billion fine to settle charges of marketing Zyprexa illegally.

Zyprexa had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - but in 2001, the company began promoting it for other uses, such as treating anxiety, agitation and confusion in the elderly.

Drug companies are permitted to market drugs only for approved uses, though doctors may prescribe as they see fit. Lilly did an end run around the process by telling doctors Zyprexa could ease agitation, anxiety, and other everyday symptoms, according to the Philadelphia U.S. Attorney's Office, which brought the case.

In a statement today, Lilly insisted its employees always adhered to strict ethics. "Doing things the right way at Lilly is more important than securing a prescription," the statement said.

Rudolph and several other whistle-blowers found their way to prosecutors through their attorneys, Steve Sheller of Sheller P.C. and Michael Mustokoff of Duane Morris L.L.P., both of Philadelphia, and Gary Farmer of Florida.

Lilly's Zyprexa marketing material included pictures of composite patients such as Martha, a confused and agitated widow.

"If you looked at it, you would say this was an Alzheimer's dementia patient," Rudolph said in the interview from his home in Oregon.

Other tactics bothered him, too. Company employees were allowed into doctors' offices on weekends to collect names of patients taking certain drugs in hopes of switching them to Lilly products.

"We're not selling soap. We're selling chemicals that can be dangerous if they're not used in the right way," he said.

That was especially true of Zyprexa, which caused weight gain. And diabetes is a risk of the drug.

Rudolph, who was a pharmacist before joining Lilly in 1976, chose the company because of its sterling reputation.

But gradually, as financial markets boomed and stock options became a bigger part of executive pay, Lilly's culture began to change, Rudolph said.

Instead of the pharmacists it had traditionally hired, Lilly started bringing in recent college graduates who had no medical background and were easy to train to parrot the company line. Instead of a profit-sharing program that all employees participated in - "even the guy who swept the floor," Rudolph said - compensation shifted to rewards-based on sales.

"This new way of compensation kind of opened the door for a lot of unscrupulous practices, I felt," Rudolph said.

He warned management of his concerns. Their response: "You're not a team player."

He began talking to other sales representatives about the issue, including Hector Rosado, another whistle-blower in the case.

As he pondered what to do, Rudolph's son, then 15, provided a moment of clarity:

"He came up to me and said, 'Dad, what's wrong is wrong.' I had taught my kids that. It was wrong, and I wanted to make it right."

So he raised his hand at the Lilly district sales meeting in Sacramento, Calif., in January 2002.

The stress of the job had thrown him into a depression. Managers made it clear they wanted him to leave, so six months after he made his stand at the meeting, he retired from his $115,000-a-year job.

He and the eight other whistle-blowers will split $78 million to $100 million of the settlement. Rudolph, 60, says the settlement against Lilly will only go so far in changing business practices. He wants jail time for wrongdoing by companies and executives.

Zyprexa sales were about $39 billion since FDA approval in 1996. Lilly did plead to a single misdemeanor of misbranding of a drug.

"You have to remember, with Zyprexa," he said, "people lost their lives."
 

Kit B. (276)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 7:42 am
*"Instead of the pharmacists it had traditionally hired, Lilly started bringing in recent college graduates who had no medical background and were easy to train to parrot the company line. Instead of a profit-sharing program that all employees participated in - "even the guy who swept the floor," Rudolph said - compensation shifted to rewards-based on sales.

"This new way of compensation kind of opened the door for a lot of unscrupulous practices, I felt," Rudolph said.

This sounds like a pack of starving animals fighting over fresh meat. Isn't this the same thinking that has brought to the mess with Wall Street, Banking, Insurance and more? We need regulations and probably some accounting inspectors. How many billions will replace the life of a loved one?
 

Krystina Bair (71)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 9:24 am
Yeah, so everyone go ahead and trust your mainstream medical doctor when he gives you a powerful psychotropic drug in the first 15 minutes of your appointment! SHEESH! This is disgusting. Exactly why I take NO drugs and go to a naturopath.
 

Christy V. (36)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 11:11 am
Yes Kit it is exactly the corporate culture that caused the meltdown. Huge bonuses to prop up the stock price.
 

Kenneth L. (314)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 3:10 pm
Robert Rudolph is a hero in my eyes. He deserves all the praise in the world for his courage to stand up and speak out.
And Lilly got off lightly. They should be standing trial for murder.

I agree with Krystina. I once made the innocent mistake of saying to my family doctor that I had been feeling a bit down, ONE SENTENCE...and he immediately wanted to give me a referral to the city mental health clinic!
This is how insidious and widespread psychiatry has controlled the population with it's terms of 'depression' etc.
I'm sure instantly I would've been 'tested' by a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.
Before all this 'depression' stuff, a family doctor probably would've suggested taking up a hobby, or a trip, etc.
 

sue M. (184)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 3:45 pm
Did my dad too! He was feeling tired, was not getting a good nights sleep. due to the new neighbors. The doctor typed in the computer - for all to read - that he was depressed and could be institutionalized (he was sitting by his side and could see what he was typing) this was a regular doctor not a psychiatrist. Wanted to give him antipsychotics. Luckily he had seen what they did to my mom and made him remove his statements and found a new doctor but he says even he is quick to offer them every time he goes in.

We need a real investigation into this. They are getting away with murder all the while lining their pockets.
 

Christy V. (36)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 4:04 pm
You had best get a medical proxy just in case of your father having an accident. That's the first thing they will put him on. Assure him you will only use it should he be unconsious or mentally (however temporarily) incapacitated. Without it they will over rule anything you want or he wants. I am serious. They attempted to institutionalize my mother-in-law over her reaction to to one of their anti-psychotics. If we had not had the medical proxy they would have succeeded and probably would have given up on life and died. I cannot stress this strongly enough. And suggest he change doctors yet again. We need a law making it illegal for doctors to accept or utilize any and all pharma company goodies of any kind, even their bloody notepads.
 

sue M. (184)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 4:12 pm
I agree Christy. He is in England, not here but the rules in Big Pharma are the same. My brother is keeping a close eye on him.

There are way too many cases like this going on and growing by the numbers. Not to mention it has been going on for years. The FDA, Monsanto and Big Pharma are way too closely connected. This is everyones health and welfare that is at stake.

There is a petition to ban drug commercials and petitions to investigate the FDA. Please sign and go to Change.org for the same.
 

Yvonne Mendes Siblini (218)
Wednesday January 21, 2009, 11:21 pm
I just hope Eli Lilly will close down ... They seem to have spread themselves all over the world... very typical of them since 1876
 

sue M. (184)
Thursday January 22, 2009, 12:11 am
It is not just Zyprexia they push either. My father in law was put on Seroquel for trouble sleeping. It is a Bipolar and Schizophrenia drug.
He was fine the first day the second he was psychotic and even the 160IB live in home help could not get him to settle down. He is normally the most placid and gentle and he went nuts. They immediately stopped giving it to him and is now fine of course. The directions state very clearly not to be given to the elderly and to anyone who has heart problems as it causes coma and heart failure and death in the elderly.
He is 94 and has a failing heart condition.

Take a look on YouTube at the Seroquel victims.
 

Wendy Watson (55)
Thursday January 22, 2009, 5:09 am
My former General Practioner Doctor was getting kick backs for presrcibing Zyprexa. He tried to change me from my anti-depressant Celexa wich at that time was on for four years. I checked into the drug and found out what it was used for. I now refuse any new FDA approved drug. I use Holistic Healing, Herbs and multi Natural Remedies.
 

. (0)
Thursday January 22, 2009, 4:53 pm
noted thank you
 
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