$14.9 Million in Grants Now Available As Part of AG's Settlement with Warner-Lambert/Pfizer Over Improper Off-Label Drug Marketing
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that up to $14.9 million in grants are now available as part of the 2004 settlement with Warner-Lambert, now a division of the world's largest pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc., resolving allegations of deceptive "off-label" marketing of the blockbuster drug Neurontin©. Oregon was a lead state in the settlement, which included all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and will serve as grantor for all grants under the program.
"A little over a year ago, we were celebrating yet another victory against a giant in the pharmaceutical industry and changing its unethical behavior in the marketplace, "Myers said. "The agreement not only stopped Warner-Lambert from illegally promoting off-label uses of a drug and provided a large recovery for Oregon Medicaid programs, but today, millions of dollars worth of grants are now available to government agencies, academic institutions and non-profit organizations to provide doctors and consumers with unbiased research and information about pharmaceutical products."
The consumer protection settlement was part of a $430 million global federal and state settlement involving allegations that Warner-Lambert, now a division of Pfizer, engaged in improper "off-label" marketing of Neurontin, an epilepsy drug. "Off-label" describes a practice in which physicians prescribe pharmaceutical products for purposes other than those expressly approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While physicians are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, it is illegal for pharmaceutical manufacturers to promote off-label uses of a drug.
The consumer protection share of the global settlement was approximately $40 million; 75 percent of this money will go either into the grant program or toward a corrective advertising program to provide balanced information to consumers and prescribers about Neurontin and similar drugs.
The Attorney General Prescriber and Consumer Education Grant Program is the first phase of a multi-phase funding strategy developed by a special committee consisting of Oregon Attorney General Myers and seven other Attorneys General from the member-states of Vermont, California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. Oregon is one of six permanent members of the Special Committee. Phase One of the strategy focuses on drug marketing and drug information through educational campaigns targeting prescribers and consumers. This phase will include several rounds of funding, with preference given to programs that are national in scope.
The goals of this first phase are to improve prescribing practices by educating physicians, pharmacists and other health professionals about the drug-approval process, drug marketing, and accessing sources of fair and balanced information about drugs; and to enable patients and their families to become better informed consumers of prescription drugs by educating them about the drug approval process, drug marketing techniques, and how to access fair and balanced information about drugs.
Phase Two of the funding strategy will focus on conditions, specifically seizure disorders and psychological conditions, for which Neurontin has been prescribed. The details of the second funding phase will be developed in greater detail as the program progresses.
Proposals may be submitted by governmental entities; academic institutions; and not-for-profit organizations that have current section 501(c) (3) non-profit status and have expertise and experience in health-related or consumer protection issues. Oregon non-profit organizations also must submit written support for their request from Attorney General Myers.
Request for Applications may be found at www.publichealthtrust.org, www.naag.org or on the Oregon Department of Justice website at www.doj.state.or.us/releases/RFA.pdf. Deadline for submission for the Phase One grant applications is October 7, 2005.
Consumers wanting more information about the grants may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org