Free Speech Rights At Stake in Legal Battle Over Controversial Drug Zyprexa
New York - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) told a judge Wednesday to remove the legal muzzle on citizen journalists caught up in a court battle over documents relating to the controversial prescription drug Zyprexa. EFF argues that the injunction against publication of the documents online is prior restraint on their free speech and a violation of First Amendment rights.
EFF's client posted links on a "wiki" to electronic copies of damaging internal Eli Lilly documents about Zyprexa. The documents leaked from an ongoing product liability lawsuit against Eli Lilly over Zyprexa and were the basis for a front-page story in the New York Times in December of 2006. Eli Lilly has since obtained an injunction that forbids 11 individuals and five websites from posting or linking to the documents. In a brief filed with the court Wednesday, EFF explains that this is the digital equivalent of a "stop the presses" order on individuals who were not involved in the leak. The documents remain readily available on the Internet from a variety of sources.
"The millions of patients who use Zyprexa, and their doctors, deserve access to these documents," said EFF Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The First Amendment guarantees citizen-journalists the right to publish truthful information on matters of public concern, just as it does for newspapers."
Zyprexa is Eli Lilly's best selling drug, used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. According to news reports, the internal documents show that Eli Lilly intentionally downplayed the drug's side effects, including weight gain, high blood sugar, and diabetes, and marketed the drug for "off-label" uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Eli Lilly has paid more than $1.2 billion to resolve lawsuits involving Zyprexa.
The matter has been submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein in the Eastern District of New York. A decision is expected shortly.
For the full brief:
For more on the Eli Lilly Zyprexa litigation:
Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation