Whistle Blower

Eli Lilly Zyprexa Litigation

EFF successfully defended the rights of a citizen-journalist to link from a public "wiki" to electronic copies of damaging internal Eli Lilly documents relating to the controversial prescription drug Zyprexa.

In December 2006, the New York Times received the documents and reported that they show that Lilly had deliberately downplayed potentially dangerous side effects of the drug, as well as pushing the drug for "off-label" uses not approved by the FDA. Given the intense public interest in these revelations (the drug has been prescribed to more than 20 million people), it's no surprise that the documents showed up online, posted to a variety of places. It's also no surprise that someone set up a wiki (zyprexa.pbwiki.com) to publish as-it-happens updates about the controversy.

Eli Lilly asked a federal court to help censor these documents off the Web, and, on January 4, 2007, a judge issued an injunction barring the wiki from posting information that would "facilitate the dissemination of the documents." Yes, that's right, that's an injunction barring the whole world from posting links to a wiki.

EFF fought back on behalf of an anonymous wiki contributor and challenged this order as an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech. Preventing a citizen-journalist from posting links to important health information on a public wiki violates the First Amendment.

Although the judge rejected the First Amendment arguments made by a variety of individuals eager to publish the documents, the court concluded that "it is unlikely that the court can now effectively enforce an injunction against the Internet in its various manifestations, and it would constitute a dubious manifestation of public policy were it to attempt to do so." This ruling makes it clear that Eli Lilly cannot invoke any court orders in its futile efforts to censor these documents off the Internet.

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