Connecticut has become the latest US state to sue Eli Lilly after claiming that the firm marketed the antipsychotic Zyprexa for unapproved off-label uses,and hid side effects such as weight gain and diabetes.

Announcing the lawsuit, the state’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal issued a scathing statement saying that Lilly “allegedly corrupted physicians, pharmacies and administrators at nursing homes and youth detention centres as part of a massive illegal marketing campaign” to promote Zyprexa (olanzapine), notably among children, for anxiety, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. He adds that the firm also “dangerously concealed risks associated with Zyprexa”, which was only approved for schizophrenia, including diabetes, cardiovascular problems and significant weight gain.

Mr Blumenthal goes on to claim that “through a complex series of illegal rackets and lies, Eli Lilly built a multi-billion dollar drug enterprise at the expense of taxpayers, consumers and patient lives”. He then says that he is seeking to “recover millions of taxpayer and consumer dollars”, around $190 million, that was “improperly spent” on Zyprexa.

Warming to his subject, Mr Blumenthal argues that Lilly “adopted a sick marketing mindset: profits over patients, sales over safety”. He concludes by saying that “driven by fierce greed”, the company “corrupted doctors, pharmacies and public officials nationwide who easily abandoned integrity and decency for self-enrichment”.

The Connecticut case comes just as a similar suit in Alaska has gone to trial. The latter state is also seeking hundreds of millions of dollars to recover costs to Medicaid for treating diabetes, high blood sugar and significant weight gain in patients that it claims suffered because of taking Zyprexa, which had sales in the fourth quarter last year of $1.27 billion, up 10%.

Eight other US states have filed suit over Zyprexa and Lilly is currently in talks with the Attorney General in Philadelphia and several states regarding a possible settlement. However the company has continually stated that the claims in the lawsuit are without merit and it markets its products only for approved usage.