A lawsuit by the state of South Carolina has turned up evidence that one sales representative for Eli Lilly bet golf scores with a doctor client — and the payoff was the doctor’s agreement to write more prescriptions for the drug Zyprexa.
According to an article by Bloomberg News, notes from this and other sales reps showed attempts to get the doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for “off-label” uses — those for which the manufacturer had not shown evidence to the FDA that the drug was safe and effective.
The state is trying to get a court to force Eli Lilly to refund excessive spending in the state Medicaid program on Zyprexa prescriptions. Lilly has settled one state lawsuit from Alaska and also agreed to a U.S. Justice Department settlement that involved thirty other states.
The inducements to doctors to prescribe the powerful antipsychotic drug included deep-sea fishing trips and speaker fees for those doctors who would address meetings of their colleagues, according to the suit.
This is yet another example of why I urge patients to be skeptical about drugs and to try to find a primary care doctor who doesn’t take freebies from drug manufacturers. Even the most innocuous of handouts from drug companies can influence how a doctor writes prescriptions. Read more about this in my book, “The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst.”