Tough medicine for Spanish prison authorities to swallow

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THE Spanish prison service spent €171 million on medication for psychotic inmates even though a generic version of the drug will soon be available at a fraction of the price. Eli Lilly, the American pharmaceutical giant, received three consecutive orders from the Spanish government for its antipsychotic drug Olanzapina, prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar (manic-depressive) disorders.

Despite the government’s all-round spending cuts, three orders for the medication were placed with Eli Lilly in the space of 15 months for Olanzapina, marketed as Zyprexa.

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The first order for a year’s supply was made in June 2009 for €3,343,476 and followed by another worth a massive €164,745,096 in July 2010.

This was 39 times more than the first but despite the size of the order, another, costing €3,486,336 was put through in September 2010.

This means that since June 2009 a total of 42,259,829 doses – at €4.06 a dose – were purchased for a prison population of approximately 65,600.

Nearly a tenth of prisoners have psychotic disorders, the authorities estimate, and another 3 per cent suffer from personality disorders.

Around 5,000 doses were acquired for each of the 8,400 currently treated with Zyprexa – enough to last 13 years at the average dose of 10 milligrams per day.

Several pharmaceutical companies have for years sought permission to produce generic versions of Zyprexa but all court cases have so far ended with rulings that Eli Lilly’s patent is binding until next April.  Cheaper versions are certain to be available shortly afterwards insiders claim.

And in 13 years’ time, recently-produced medication will be in far better condition than the Zyprexa inexplicably stockpiled by the prison services, government critics pointed out.

 


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