Lilly distances itself from diluted drugs

Saturday, September 1, 2001

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eli Lilly and Co. says it did not suspect pharmacist Robert Courtney might be diluting chemotherapy drugs until May of this year.

Several lawsuits against the company, including three filed on Friday, claim the Indianapolis-based company knew about the dilutions in early 2000, but did nothing.

The latest lawsuits against Lilly and Courtney include one wrongful death claim and two negligence suits.

Company attorney Jeff Newton said the lawsuits are "completely without merit."

Courtney is charged in U.S. District Court in Kansas City with diluting expensive cancer drugs, including Lilly's Gemzar, so he could pocket the difference in prices. On Monday he pleaded innocent to 20 felony counts.

Earlier Friday, the company released a timeline showing that its sales representative, Darryl Ashley, did not start suspecting Courtney might be diluting drugs until May 15, after meeting with nurses at Dr. Verda Hunter's office.

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