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Lilly Settlement to Fund MT Mental Health Services

From Associated Press (February 26, 2010)

HELENA, Mont. -- The state attorney general's office has settled a lawsuit with a major pharmaceutical company and will use most of the proceeds to pay for mental health services and programs in the state.

"This settlement comes at a time when the mental health community is most in need," Attorney General Steve Bullock said Thursday.

In 2007, the attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against Eli Lilly & Co. over its off-label marketing of Zyprexa, a drug approved for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults.

This week, Lilly agreed to settle the lawsuit for $13 million.

Bullock said more than $9.5 million of the settlement will be placed in the Montana Mental Health Trust, with the money used to benefit the mentally ill.

"The Montana Mental Health Trust has the ability and potential to do an amazing amount of good for those who are among the most vulnerable members of society and who often suffer the most, individuals with mental illness," he said.

The settlement comes as the state is recommending spending cuts to balance the budget.

Bullock appointed former Supreme Court Justice John Warner to head the trust. He will appoint a committee with experience in the mental health field to help decide how to distribute the money.

"I am committed to making sure these funds will be used to address these important mental health issues, and I look forward to working with an outstanding advisory committee in deciding how best to put these funds to work," Warner said.

Montana's settlement includes more than $615,000 to reimburse the Department of Public Health and Human Services for Medicaid money spent purchasing the anti-psychotic drug for off-label uses. The remaining $2.9 million pay for attorney fees and court costs.

Lilly paid a $1.4 billion settlement to the federal government in January 2009 after admitting it had promoted Zyprexa in elderly populations for treatment of dementia between 1999 and 2001. The action settled civil suits with several states and ended a criminal investigation.

Montana was one of 13 states that filed a separate lawsuit against Lilly.

Posted: February 2010