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Eli Lilly's Influence on Health Guidelines Sells More Drugs

An interesting editorial in today's New England Journal of Medicine regarding the outrageous behavior displayed by Eli Lilly and Co. to sell its costly Xigris (a drug intended to treat sepsis) merely underscores the extent to which drug companies will do almost anything to sell necessary drugs that can harm and, on occasion, kill you.

The article, written by a trio of doctors working at the National Institutes of Health, blasted Eli Lilly for its deceptive promotion of Xigris (an "under-performer" based on typical drug company standards) by lobbying various medical societies for changes in their treatment standards for sepsis.

No wonder, Lilly did some heavy duty lobbying at the grassroots level: Xigris was approved by the FDA five years ago even after the results of a clinical trial showed the drug reduced a patient's risk of death to 25 percent -- a minute difference from older treatments at 31 percent -- disregarding a split-ruling at the advisory committee level.

Unfortunately, this article came way too late in the game, as these updated sepsis guidelines with Xigris as the "cure" have been in place for two years, a testament to Eli Lilly's sound marketing practices. To the good, however, perhaps it's one more sign to those who practice medicine the conventional way to reconsider where those newer options, using therapies and drugs that are likely no better than older, safer drugs, are coming from.

And, for patients, news like this should scare you straight away from a conventional health care paradigm that kills nearly 800,000 Americans annually.

New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 355, No. 16, October 19, 2006: 1640-1642

Yahoo News October 18, 2006

New York Times October 19, 2006 Registration Required