Judge Lifts Gag Order Against Icarus Staff Will Hall

First Aired: 02-13-2007 -- No Comments Yet | Add comment

The Brooklyn Court has ruled that the gag order on Will Hall and other advocates who received copies of leaked documents is lifted! Advocates who did not return the documents had their injunctions made permanent, however, and the ruling has put attorney Jim Gottstein, who subpoenaed the files and gave them to the New York Times, in very hot water.

Zyprexa Memo Court Ruling:
Lilly Goes After Gottstein

Posted on Feb 15, 07

The court in NYC just released its ruling on the Zyprexa documents leak scandal.

While the ruling allows for websites to distribute the previously-secret memos, which is a victory, it makes permanent the injunction against distributing for several of the original advocates who received the documents from Jim — those who did not return the documents. Will Hall, who did return the documents as the court requested, is not named in the permanent injunction. The ruling also encourages congress to subpoena the documents in pursuit of hearings against Lilly, as the New York Times has urged.

Lilly has 10 days to appeal this ruling, after which it appears Freedom Center can freely distribute the documents!

However, what is most troubling is that the Judge came down hard on Jim Gottstein, calling what happened a conspiracy and that Lilly’s secrecy rights were violated. This sets the stage for Lilly to come after Gottstein and the doctor who he subpoenaed to get the files, Egilman.

Jim’s work could be very seriously damaged by Lilly’s attack.

We are asking people to come to Jim Gottstein’s aid!

You can find out about the legal defense fund at http://icspp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=163&Itemid=70

Below is the press release from Jim’s organizaton, PsychRights:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE< February 13, 2007 Contact: Bruce Whittington 778-862-8847 Bruce.Whittington@PsychRights.org

Judge Issues Permanent Injunction in Eli Lilly Drug Case
Congress Encouraged to Subpoena Zyprexa Papers

U.S. District Court Judge Jack B. Weinstein issued a permanent injunction today, barring mental health rights advocate and attorney Jim Gottstein, and expert witness Dr. David Egilman, from further distributing internal Eli Lilly documents concerning the drug Zyprexa. The documents were recently reported in the New York Times to contain evidence that Lilly downplayed the risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling drug, and trained its sales force to encourage doctors to prescribe the drug for non-FDA approved uses.

Last December, Gottstein, who is President and CEO of The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, Inc. (PsychRights) subpoenaed internal Eli Lilly documents for a case involving forced drugging of a client. The documents were under a protective order as part of a massive products liability case, but the protective order also provided the steps by which the documents might be subpoenaed. Believing he had obtained the documents legally, and because of the importance of the information to patients, doctors, and the general public, Gottstein released the documents to the New York Times and others.

Zyprexa is big business for Lilly: last year’s sales of the drug amounted to $4.4 billion. Lilly sought and obtained an injunction against Gottstein and others to whom he had sent the documents–which Lilly claims contain “trade secrets”– prohibiting them from disseminating the internal company files. By that time, however, the New York Times had begun publishing stories on the files. Soon thereafter, various versions of the files appeared on the Internet.

“This was not a conspiracy to harm Eli Lilly.” says Gottstein. “The Court’s order sealing the documents provided for release of the documents in circumstances like these, and I made a concerted good faith effort to follow those provisions to the letter. If anyone truly intended to violate the sealing order, there would have been no reason to even subpoena the documents.”

Judge Weinstein saw it differently, outlining other means in the sealing order by which the documents might have been obtained and choosing to continue the injunction against Gottstein. While the injunction also covers others who received the documents directly from Gottstein, but still have not returned them, Judge Weinstein refused to honor Lilly’s request to continue the injunction against various websites that had posted the documents, nor were the New York Times, or other news organizations who have the documents, named in the injunction.

In fact, as Judge Weinstein pointed out in today’s order, “There has already been sufficient revelation in the New York Times so that if Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, or the Federal Trade Commission wish to investigate or act they have grounds for doing so, subpoenaing protected documents as necessary for their purposes.”

The most important issue, says Gottstein, is the right of patients and the public to know the truth about Zyprexa. “Zyprexa has killed and permanently sickened thousands of people who have taken it. The files show that the manufacturer hid vital information about the drug’s safety not only from patients, but also from doctors. The bottom line is patient safety.” He continued, “Did I want to get this information in front of the public and the medical profession? Of course. Additional lives may well have been saved.”

Today’s order releasing several people and websites from the temporary injunction does not take effect for 10 days, to allow time for Eli Lilly to file an appeal to try and keep them enjoined. Gottstein plans to continue to use mechanisms suggested in the order to obtain access to the documents for his clients. “My continued efforts to obtain the information legally are a testament to my respect for our legal system.”

Judge Weinstein’s decision, the New York Times articles, and other background information on the case is available on the PsychRights website at http://psychrights.org.

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