NEW YORK -- West Virginia has agreed to drop its request for civil penalties for any acts committed before 2002 by Eli Lilly & Co. regarding its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa.

Outside counsel hired by state Attorney General Darrell McGraw dropped its claim for any actual damages done to the state's Medicaid program last year and are only seeking civil penalties. Eli Lilly argued a four-year statute of limitations limited the amount of any recovery in a motion filed earlier this month.

"The parties stipulate that the plaintiff's claims for civil penalties pursuant to ... the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act are limited ... and thus no civil penalty may be imposed for any alleged violation of the act occurring before Feb. 28, 2002," an order entered Thursday says.

The State voluntarily dismissed its Medicaid claim in June after Eli Lilly requested records associated with it.

In January, Eli Lilly agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle federal civil and criminal claims. The payment also benefited the Medicaid programs of more than 30 states that collectively received approximately $362 million.

Consumer protection claims by 33 attorneys general were settled for $62 million last year, and 12 states still have claims pending against the company.

"While most states have settled their cases against Lilly for a few million dollars each, the states with cases now pending in this court -- Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and West Virginia -- are seeking, on essentially the same theories and evidence, many billions of dollars in damages in fines," U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein wrote in October when he ordered the parties to take 30 days off from the case to try to work out a settlement.

Eli Lilly has also paid $1.2 billion to settle more than 30,000 individual lawsuits.

Representing West Virginia are South Carolina-based Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, Charleston's Jerri Janeen Legato and Troy Giatras, whose political action committee Equal Justice gave $1,000 to McGraw's campaign in 2004.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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