Man vs Machine

February 2, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Further on the topic of  Zyprexa and diabetes, Alaska lawyer Jim Gottstein of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights is heading to court today to face down the drug’s maker, Eli Lilly in a lawsuit they brought against him for “conspiring to steal” documents that show the company suppressed information regarding the dangers of their star drug.

From Pharmalot:

For those who don’t recall, Gottstein…was accused along with two others by US District Court Judge Jack Weinstein of violating a court order by scheming to leak and publish sealed Zyprexa documents. The Zyprexa documents, which detailed hidden side-effect data and improper marketing, were published by The New York Times (Gottstein provides documents and related background here), setting off a feverish debate over the public’s right to know about concealed side effect data.

As a result of Jim going public with the information, Lilly agreed to plead guilty and pay a 1.415 billion dollar fine for promoting Zyprexa off label. $515 million of that was in the form of a criminal fine — the largest single corporate criminal fine in history. The rest was paid out as civil settlements to the states and the FDA. I don’t know how exactly anyone can pay out a record breaking fine and no one notices but then, the lack of media coverage regarding pharma’s indiscretions and outright deceit is always pretty puzzling. At least the important information was taken to the public and to a degree that has made people aware and force Eli Lilly to take some accountability.

As for Gottstein, he maintains innocence. ‘Ever since Judge Weinstein ruled against me on February 13, 2007, Lilly has threatened me with civil and criminal contempt sanctions and going after my license to practice law,’ Gottstein writes to supporters. “I believe I did nothing wrong – that when Lilly failed to object after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so and then Dr. Egilman sent the Zyprexa Papers to me, they had lost their secrecy protection. I hope the Second Circuit will agree.”

Forget for a moment that Gottstein is an outspoken advocate for informed choice in mental health. He’s a human being. If you know a company is suppressing the fact that its product is directly leading to thousands of deaths from children right up through our elderly and all stops between, don’t you have an obligation to let those people know? It takes people like Jim Gottstein to bring this level of systemic deceit to light because if recent history shows us anything, the corporate conscience isn’t going to do it and a judge who see this as a “trade secrets” issue and not a public safety issue isn’t going to do it.


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