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Drugmaker Gets a Boost in Zyprexa Litigation

BROOKLYN (CN) - A federal judge dismissed the fourth of five plaintiffs suing Eli Lilly and Co. over its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein signed the order on Jan. 28, dismissing the penultimate plaintiff from the personal injury suit filed in March 2009. Two other plaintiffs were dismissed from the action that year, and two others were dismissed in 2010. Only lead plaintiff James Richard Cunningham, represented by Michael Miller of Alexandria, Va., remains.

In 2009, Eli Lilly agreed to pay $1.4 billion for promoting Zyprexa for the off-label use of dementia treatment.

The Justice Department said Lilly's $515 million fine was the largest criminal fine in history. Another $800 million went toward settling civil charges - $432 million to the federal government and $362 million to states.

Zyprexa has been a big earner for the Indianapolis-based Lilly, but the cash cow is drying out. The U.S. patent for Zyprexa expires in October, and the company has projected big sales drops as generic competitors hit the marketplace.

According to Lilly's report on the fourth quarter, released Thursday, it earned $1.17 billion, or $1.05 per share, through Dec. 31 - up from $915.4 million, or 83 cents per share, at this point last year. Zyprexa sales fell 2 percent to $1.34 billion.

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