The Whistle-Blower who Blew Eli LIlly Out of the Water

He wants jail time for wrongdoing by Lilly executives regarding psych drug Zyprexa. “You have to remember, with Zyprexa,” he said, “people lost their lives.”

Letters to the editor:

Philadelphia Inquirer
Whistle-blower’s perspective on Lilly case
By Miriam Hill
Jan. 19, 2009
Robert Rudolph knew he was about to end his lucrative career at Eli Lilly & Co., but he had to say something.

Why, he asked management, was the Indianapolis pharmaceutical company marketing its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa to elderly people when the drug was not approved for that group?


Robert Rudolph was one of nine Eli Lilly workers who took allegations against the drugmaker to federal prosecutors.
Why had the company violated privacy rules by culling patient lists at doctors’ offices?

Why was the company counting drug samples as sales, which would boost the stock price?

He went on for about 10 minutes during a sales meeting in 2002. The other 25 Lilly sales representatives stared at him, stunned.

“I’d just been wrestling with this stuff for so long,” he said in a telephone interview today. “I was put in a position of breaking the law, in my view, or quitting.”

Rudolph and eight other whistle-blowers brought their allegations to federal prosecutors. That led Lilly to agree Thursday to a record $1.4 billion fine to settle charges of marketing Zyprexa illegally.

Zyprexa had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – but in 2001, the company began promoting it for other uses, such as treating anxiety, agitation and confusion in the elderly.

Drug companies are permitted to market drugs only for approved uses, though doctors may prescribe as they see fit. Lilly did an end run around the process by telling doctors Zyprexa could ease agitation, anxiety, and other everyday symptoms, according to the Philadelphia U.S. Attorney’s Office, which brought the case.

In a statement today, Lilly insisted its employees always adhered to strict ethics. “Doing things the right way at Lilly is more important than securing a prescription,” the statement said.

Rudolph and several other whistle-blowers found their way to prosecutors through their attorneys, Steve Sheller of Sheller P.C. and Michael Mustokoff of Duane Morris L.L.P., both of Philadelphia, and Gary Farmer of Florida.

Lilly’s Zyprexa marketing material included pictures of composite patients such as Martha, a confused and agitated widow.

“If you looked at it, you would say this was an Alzheimer’s dementia patient,” Rudolph said in the interview from his home in Oregon.

Other tactics bothered him, too. Company employees were allowed into doctors’ offices on weekends to collect names of patients taking certain drugs in hopes of switching them to Lilly products.

“We’re not selling soap. We’re selling chemicals that can be dangerous if they’re not used in the right way,” he said.

That was especially true of Zyprexa, which caused weight gain. And diabetes is a risk of the drug.

Rudolph, who was a pharmacist before joining Lilly in 1976, chose the company because of its sterling reputation.

But gradually, as financial markets boomed and stock options became a bigger part of executive pay, Lilly’s culture began to change, Rudolph said.

Instead of the pharmacists it had traditionally hired, Lilly started bringing in recent college graduates who had no medical background and were easy to train to parrot the company line. Instead of a profit-sharing program that all employees participated in – “even the guy who swept the floor,” Rudolph said – compensation shifted to rewards-based on sales.

“This new way of compensation kind of opened the door for a lot of unscrupulous practices, I felt,” Rudolph said.

He warned management of his concerns. Their response: “You’re not a team player.”

He began talking to other sales representatives about the issue, including Hector Rosado, another whistle-blower in the case.

As he pondered what to do, Rudolph’s son, then 15, provided a moment of clarity:

“He came up to me and said, ‘Dad, what’s wrong is wrong.’ I had taught my kids that. It was wrong, and I wanted to make it right.”

So he raised his hand at the Lilly district sales meeting in Sacramento, Calif., in January 2002.

The stress of the job had thrown him into a depression. Managers made it clear they wanted him to leave, so six months after he made his stand at the meeting, he retired from his $115,000-a-year job.

He and the eight other whistle-blowers will split $78 million to $100 million of the settlement. Rudolph, 60, says the settlement against Lilly will only go so far in changing business practices. He wants jail time for wrongdoing by companies and executives.

Zyprexa sales were about $39 billion since FDA approval in 1996. Lilly did plead to a single misdemeanor of misbranding of a drug.

“You have to remember, with Zyprexa,” he said, “people lost their lives.”


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23 responses to this post.

  1. Google search shows that I have made about 70,000 Zyprexa ‘ whistle-blowing’ pages over 4 years AND I took the stuff pre-black label 1996-2000 got type two diabetes which will shorten my life.

    I don’t get a dime! Amazing

    Daniel Haszard


  2. Posted by Nikko on January 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Danny Haszard is one persistent son of a gun on Lilly’s Zyprexa. I salute you Mr. Haszard.

    Google Haszard and Zyprexa and you’ll see what I mean!


  3. On Aug 3 at 9 AM Central Time Dr. John Virapen PhD, a former top executive from Eli Lilly will be joining Dr. Janet Parker DVM for a lively discussion about corruption in the Pharmaceutical Industry. He will be joining us from Germany. His recent book Side Effects: Death is a best seller in Europe and has been published in English, Swedish and German. See him on YouTube:

    Read about his story on the web at:


  4. Posted by Randy Watters on September 18, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Yes, why has Danny Haszard been ignored by LillY? I guess you have to have the right attorney? Danny has been struggling with this for years.


  5. Posted by Julie on September 20, 2009 at 6:38 am

    “He and the eight other whistle-blowers will split $78 million to $100 million of the settlement. Rudolph, 60, says the settlement against Lilly will only go so far in changing business practices. He wants jail time for wrongdoing by companies and executives.”

    So they are getting about $8 million each not bad.Daniel Haszard is giving Lilly a run for their money but he should have a lawyer too.Think about getting some money not just revenge.


  6. Could someone inform me more about the settlement for the whistle-blowers? Where are the legal documents? Did this go to court?


  7. Isn’t there anyone here interested in trying to answer my question?


  8. Bob Rudolph is a hero. He and his colleagues should in fact have gotten a lot more money in my view. Think what it takes to risk your career and go up against any employer
    in this way let alone one that does billions.

    He was dead on in wanting
    these executives to get jail time.
    If a company that once had a sterling reputation has such a shift in culture that the kind of thing that Rudolph uncovered not only took place but was encouraged, sadly it may only be the real possibility of jail time that impacts the behavior of these irresponsible executives’ type of business culture is likely only jail time

    Clearly the business culture at Lily had changed for the worse. They- as should the public- say thanks to Bob Rudolph. Executives there who want to build a great company with great values will think in these terms—and should.


  9. Posted by ANNETTE S. on March 19, 2010 at 5:45 am

    can you tell me what role james wetta played in the whistle blowing of eli lilly’s Zyprexa .


  10. I worked on contract jobs at Lilly in the early 90’s and was offered a fulltime job. During the final interview I discovered my HR person started out at Lilly as a clean-up utility man and was promoted all the way up to this nice desk job in HR. I lost some respect for Lilly when I realized they only wanted to hire people cheap and promise them they would make up the cut in pay with bonuses and profit sharing. I told him, I wasn’t interested in taking a 50% cut in pay to work for Lilly- goodbye. Not many people walk away from a Lilly job offer.


  11. The quick black fox jumped over the lazy cat


  12. Posted by test on November 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    The quick black fox jumped over the lazy dog


  13. Asthma education plays a key role in helping you cope with both the condition of asthma and its effects. There are many things you can do for yourself, both in terms of avoiding possible trigger factors and in keeping the body in a relaxed and calm state.


  14. Asthma education plays a key role in helping you deal with both the condition of asthma and its effects. There is much you can do for yourself, both in terms of avoiding possible trigger factors and in keeping the body in a relaxed and calm state.


  15. Posted by Mick on March 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Zyprexa unofficially is a “Diabetic Anti psychotic” tell you Doctor or Pharmacist that, use this term to get the message around, write it on the back of your prescription form. Go to your Psychiatrist and put a pillow under your shirt. Tell him your are a Zyprexa Diabetaholic, and then say I am broke I don’t have enough money to buy needles. Tell the Doctor you refuse to take insulin medication made by Eli Lilly. I want to use another brand.


  16. What chaps my hide is that Eli Lilly and many other big pharma thugs have been killing and maiming people for decade and not a single one of them has gone to jail. China executes corrupt officials. Patriots in the US should be doing the same thing.


  17. albuterol substitute too much albuterol albuterol 2mg


  18. Eli Lilly killed my son-in-law with Cymbalta. My blog is


  19. The black box label absolves the pharmaceutical company of any wrongdoing yet like a fellow poster said they have been doing this for years and no one has gone to jail. The latest whistleblower is from GlaxoSmithKline. You can see his interview of Youtube. When will the American people wake up?


  20. Posted by Nancy Brownlow on June 15, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Robert Rudolph is a hero. Eli lily is s scumbag monry grubbing company. Thank God for people like Mr. Rudolph. That took courage and integrity.


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