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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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MYERS ANNOUNCES PRESCRIPTION DRUG EDUCATION GRANTS

November 1, 2006

AG Myers Announces Nearly $2 Million In Prescription Drug Education Grants For Health Professionals Funded By Settlement With Pfizer

Applications For Additional $6.5 Million In Consumer Education Grants Now Available

Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the selection of five new recipients for prescription drug education grants for health care professionals funded by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program. This program was established through a 2004 Attorneys General settlement resolving allegations that Warner-Lambert (a division of Pfizer, Inc. – the world's largest pharmaceutical company) violated state consumer protection laws when marketing the drug Neurontin for "off-label" uses. Myers co-lead the Neurontin investigation and acts as trustee and grantor for the $21 million Grant Program.

New grants totaling $1,945,352 will be distributed to Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Institute on Medicine as a Profession – IMAP, University of Arkansas, Florida International University, and the University of Minnesota. Oregon organizations received two of the Grants in the initial selection of 24 grantees in April 2006. Some $750,000 in grant money was awarded to the Portland Veterans Hospital in conjunction with the Oregon Health & Science University and the Oregon Health Policy and Research program in partnership with an Oregon State University college of Pharmacy program.

Myers and 49 other Attorneys General also announced the issuance of a Request for Applications for $6.5 million for national consumer education programs on the prescribing, marketing, and purchasing of prescription drugs. Eligible applicants include governmental entities; academic institutions; and not-for-profit organizations.

The Neurontin consumer protection investigation focused on allegations that Warner-Lambert promoted the drug for various "off-label" indications. It is illegal for pharmaceutical manufacturers to promote off-label use, although doctors are permitted to prescribe for such uses. Neurontin is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of epilepsy and post-herpetic neuralgia. However, approximately 90 percent of Neurontin prescriptions are for other, off-label purposes.

In the 2004 state consumer protection settlement, $21 million was allocated to a prescription drug education program for health care professionals and consumers ("The Attorney General Consumer and Protection Grant Program") and $6 million to a corrective advertising program intended to provide balanced information to consumers and prescribers about Neurontin and similar drugs. Pharmaceutical companies reportedly spend more than $12 billion per year in the United States on marketing. Recipients of these grants will develop prescription drug education for the thousands of health care professionals who may prescribe drugs including physicians, clinical pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and psychiatric nursers as well as future prescribers such as medical and pharmacy students.

The five grants announced today are in addition to the $9,030,333 awarded to 23 grantees for provider drug education on April 13, 2006. The total amount awarded to date to the 28 institutions for prescription drug education for health care professionals is $11 million

"We are pleased that the Attorneys General consumer protection settlement has produced such important results. These grants will help foster more informed prescribing practices making health care more efficient and effective throughout the United States," Myers explained.

Under the 2004 settlement, the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Grant Program is administered by a Special Committee of Assistant Attorneys General from eight states including Florida, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Maine and Washington. The Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health and Science University is the Grant Administrator.

The Request for Application for the consumer education grants may be found at Oregon Attorney General's website, www.doj.state.or.us; at the Program Grant Administrator's website at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, www.ohsu.edu/cpgp; and at the website of the National Association of Attorneys General, www.naag.org.

Additional information is available by contacting the Program Grant Administrator at (503) 494-3094. Submission deadline for these grants is January 15, 2007.

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
AAG David Hart, (503) 947-4333 |
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