Lawsuits Build as Eli Lilly Disciplines Employees in Prozac Case

Share this content:
More consumers, including a 16-year-old male, claimed this week that they received unsolicited samples of Prozac in the mail, while drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. disciplined eight employees involved in the campaign.


In a statement, Eli Lilly said it had completed its investigation of the allegations and concluded that some of its sales personnel had acted inconsistent with company policy. Three sales managers and five sales representatives received disciplinary actions including separation from the company, demotion, probation and warnings, Eli Lilly said.


The statement did not specify which employees received which types of disciplinary action.


"While the number of Lilly personnel involved was small and the inappropriate activities limited, Lilly takes the matter very seriously," the company said in a statement. "Consequently, Lilly has taken disciplinary action with those involved."


The issue came to light early this month when a South Florida woman sued Eli Lilly, the pharmacy Walgreens, Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and the three doctors and a physician's assistant from the hospital's medical group.


The woman, named in the lawsuit only as S.K., claimed that she received an unsolicited sample of Prozac Weekly, a once-a-week version of the antidepressant drug, in a Walgreens envelope accompanied by a letter from the three doctors and physician's assistant encouraging her to try the new medicine.


The lawsuit sparked an investigation by the Florida Attorney General's Office into whether Eli Lilly's campaign violated state fair trade laws and whether consumer privacy violations in the pharmaceutical marketing industry are widespread.


"It certainly demonstrates that it wasn't a single rogue employee going off the deep end," Stephen Sheller, the Philadelphia attorney whose office is representing S.K., said of Eli Lilly's decision to discipline eight employees.


Since S.K.'s lawsuit, other consumers in South Florida have said they were targeted by the Prozac sampling campaign. One was Michael Grinstead, 16, of Palm Beach, FL, whose mother has also filed a lawsuit and is being represented by Sheller's office.


According to Sheller, Grinstead's case involved a different set of doctors than the ones from Holy Cross Hospital involved in S.K.'s case. The attorney said he is uncertain at this time exactly how many doctors were involved in mailing the unsolicited samples.


"We're going to get to the bottom of what those doctors were offered to get them to do this," Sheller said.


Eli Lilly has acknowledged the Grinstead case and issued an apology to consumers who received the unsolicited samples.


According to Eli Lilly, the incident was limited to South Florida and has not been reported anywhere else. Sheller said that several other consumers who claim to have received unsolicited Prozac samples have approached his office about legal action, though he declined to say how many at this time.


close

Next Article in Data/Analytics

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above