Friday, August 01, 2008

Zyprexa Marketing: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Diagnosis and Hiding Risks


From an excellent piece at Bloomberg:
"The doctor's thinking that he does not see a schizophrenic or bipolar patient,'' [Zyprexa brand manager] Bandick said in a December 2000 internal e- mail to the marketing department. "But he probably does see patients with symptoms of behavior, mood and thought disturbances,'' he wrote. "Even if the doctor does not have diagnosis, he should treat anyway.''
Adding more fuel to the fire I discussed in February 2007:
The document discussed in this post is called the “Zyprexa Primary Care Presentation”. It appears to be a transcript of a speech Mike Bandick, the Zyprexa Brand Manager, gave at the Eli Lilly National Sales Meeting on March 13, 2001.

It is important to note that Zyprexa is only FDA-approved for use in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The document appears to indicate that Bandick was encouraging salespeople to market Zyprexa for treating more than just these two conditions.

Bandick said:

We intend, quite simply, to redefine the way PCPs treat mood, thought and behavioral disturbances. We will continue to focus on symptoms and behaviors that PCPs see every day.

Later he said, referencing Zyprexa:

Broad symptom efficacy in mood, thought, and behavioral disturbances.
It seems curious that Lilly states they did not market Zyprexa for off-label purposes, yet the term “Mood, thought, and behavioral disturbances” seems a fair amount broader than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In addition, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (especially bipolar I, which is the much more severe form of bipolar in comparison to bipolar II) are uncommon disorders. It is highly unlikely that primary care physicians would see patients with such conditions “every day.” However, it is certainly possible that a PCP may run across individuals who are manifesting much less severe “disturbances”, and it may well have been that it was this group, the patients who exhibited mild “mood, thought, or behavioral” symptoms, for whom Zyprexa was being marketed.
But don't worry -- Lilly will tell you that they don't promote off-label. Do keep in mind that I'm not singling out Lilly, as this kind of thing seems to be par for the course.

As for risks of Zyprexa, well, according to Bloomberg...

Lilly added a warning to its packaging in October 2007 saying that more than half of patients in 13 studies gained an average of 12 pounds after taking the drug for less than a year. It said Zyprexa was more associated with higher blood sugar levels, a risk factor for diabetes, than similar medications.

Before the October 2007 label change, Lilly didn't instruct its sales force to say Zyprexa's diabetes rates were higher, former marketing director David Noesges said in a January deposition.

"We will NOT proactively address the diabetes concern,'' the Zyprexa sales force was advised in 2002, the documents show. "The competition wins if we are distracted into talking about diabetes."

The Bloomberg article is a must-read.

3 comments:

Daniel Haszard said...

Zyprexa has generated a lot of bad press for Eli Lilly and they still have unresolved Zyprexa settlement claims.
Eli Lilly is 'reaping the whirlwind' for aggressive marketing of Zyprexa that has caused suffering and deaths.
Zyprexa is being avoided by doctors they aren't prescribing it for new patients at all anymore.
--
Daniel Haszard 4 year Zyprexa patient who got diabetes from it.

therapyfirst said...

Love the picture with this posting. Lilly is the poster child for the greed of this industry. Every psychotropic is sold as their savior to the stock holders. The analogy with Blazing Saddles plot line seems appropriate: let's run a train line through the town and wipe them out for the sake of money. Unfortunately, this is not a comedy, and we need a real sheriff!

Psychiatrists are the Mel Brooks' character: disconjugate gaze and clueless demeanor, just give us pretty women (or men) and perks.

thanks for the posting.

therapyfirst

Victoria Blunt said...

Just want to say I really like your blog and have linked to it.


Victoria

askvictoriablunt.com