The promotion of olanzapine in primary care: an examination of internal industry documents

Social Science & Medicine
Glen I Spielmans


Media reports have discussed how olanzapine was marketed off-label for dementia and subsyndromal bipolar disorder. Much of this marketing occurred in primary care settings. However, these reports have provided few details. In legal proceedings, Lilly disclosed internal documents that detail the strategies utilized to market olanzapine. The current paper addresses the marketing of olanzapine in detail based upon a review of these documents. All 358 documents released by Lilly are publicly available online. Documents were utilized for this review if they were relevant to the marketing of olanzapine in primary care settings in the United States. It was found that olanzapine was marketed off-label in primary care settings for relatively mild symptoms that were framed as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A key strategy in this campaign was the use of hypothetical patient profiles in detailing visits, most of which clearly failed to meet diagnostic criteria for any recognized mental disorder. Evidence emerged that olanzapine was also marketed off-label as a treatment for dementia.


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