Eli Lilly Exec Returns to Harvard

The Wall Street Journal reports that Dr. William Chin, Eli Lilly’s senior VP for “discovery and clinical research” is to assume “a newly created job” at Harvard Medical School.  So much for talk about academia distancing medical research from the influence of Big Pharma.  The revolving door between Harvard Medical School faculty and Eli Lilly executives is an example of sheer arrogance and a stunning disregard for public opinion.

by Vera Hassner Sharav

Dr. Chin was a professor of medicine at Harvard before he joined Lilly in 1999.  He received his medical training entirely from Harvard–including his MD, residency (at Beth Israel), and a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism (at Mass. General).

During his tenure at Lilly, the company (admittedly) engaged in criminal marketing of this drug for unapproved, off-label use in children and the elderly.  The concealed risks, buried in company documents, were brought to public light only through litigation.

Given his superior training and expertise in endocrinology and metabolism, surely Dr. Chin, VP for “discovery and clinical research” should have recognized the enormous endocrine and metabolic risk posed by Lilly’s drug, Zyprexa (olanzapine).

One cannot but observe the contrast between how a company, like Toyota, accepts responsibility for failing to promptly recall defective cars:

Toyota Motor Corp’s president apologized on Friday for safety problems and said the automaker would bring in outside experts to review quality controls:

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize from the bottom of my heart for causing many of our customers concern after the recalls across several models in several regions,” Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder, told a news conference in Nagoya, Japan.

In sharp contrast, Eli Lilly never apologized for having concealed for more than a decade the safety hazards linked to Zyprexa, a drug that induced diabetes and other  debilitating diseases – and resulted in thousands of preventable deaths. After the evidence was brought to light through the onerous process of litigation, Lilly agreed to numerous cash settlements – including $1.4 billion in the criminal off-label marketing case brought by the US Justice Department.

However, in line with the pharmaceutical industry’s disregard for consumer safety, the company never apologized to the public neither for its immoral nor illegal actions.

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