Report: Eli Lilly promotes schizophrenia drug for off-label use

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Eli Lilly encouraged the use of Zyprexa, a drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, in older patients with symptoms of dementia, according to a news report this week.

The practice of promoting prescription drugs for off-label use, or conditions for which the drugs have not been approved, is against federal law. Internal Lilly marketing materials revealed that the pharmaceutical company was encouraging primary care doctors to use this drug for off-label use, according to The New York Times. But a Lilly executive said the company had never promoted this practice for Zyprexa.

The drug is not approved to treat dementia or dementia-related psychosis. It carries a prominent warning from the Food and Drug Administration that it increases the risk of death in older patients with dementia-related psychosis.