Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Melissa Merz
312-814-3118
877-844-5461 (TTY)
mmerz@atg.state.il.us
April 13 , 2006

MADIGAN ANNOUNCES $800K IN GRANTS AWARDED TO ILLINOIS MEDICAL GROUPS; GRANTS FUNDED BY 2004 NEURONTIN SETTLEMENT

Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that two Illinois not-for-profit organizations have been awarded grants totaling about $800,000 to establish programs to educate physicians and other health professionals on effective ways to resist the often excessive pressure from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe certain drugs.

In Illinois, Madigan announced that grants have been awarded to the American Medical Association (AMA) and Hektoen Institute. Nationwide, 22 grant recipients were announced today and will receive a total of $8 million dollars in grants over the next two years.

The grants are funded by money provided in the May 2004 settlement agreement with Warner-Lambert to resolve allegations that the company conducted an unlawful marketing campaign for the drug Neurontin by pushing off-label uses to doctors in violation of Federal Drug Administration (FDA) rules.

“I am confident that the Illinois grant recipients announced today will create programs to ensure that the money from the Neurontin settlement is used to make significant positive changes in the prescribing methods of physicians,” Madigan said.

Madigan announced that the AMA, headquartered in Chicago, has been awarded $397,980 to develop a program to educate physicians about the influence of pharmaceutical companies in their prescribing. The AMA will develop curriculum in conjunction with Stanford University, New York University and the University of Texas – Houston, aimed at educating all physicians, from their first day of medical school through their years as experienced practitioners, about the marketing techniques of pharmaceutical companies and the influence of the pharmaceutical industry in their work lives. 

The Hektoen Institute, also located in Chicago, has been awarded $400,000 to work with two Chicago teaching hospitals, Stroger Hospital of Cook County and the University of Illinois – Chicago, to develop and disseminate curriculum aimed at better formulary development for prescription drugs in the hospital environment, Madigan said.  Formularies are very influential in determining which pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed and often are subject to influence by drug companies.

In May 2004, Madigan joined 50 other Attorneys General, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units in reaching the settlement with Warner-Lambert. Illinois received more than $3 million and Warner-Lambert – now owned by Pfizer, Inc. – was prohibited from continuing to promote the use of Neurontin for any “off-label” uses, such as bipolar disorder, back pain and headaches. The settlement also required that medical professionals who are paid by the company to conduct research or speak at medical symposia must disclose to their audiences that they are on its payroll.

In addition, $21 million was designated to establish the Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which provides grants to governmental entities, academic institutions and not-for-profit organizations that provide prescribers and consumers with fair and balanced information about drugs. This program provided the funding for the grants announced today.

The grant program is a step toward advancing independent prescriber and consumer education regarding the marketing of pharmaceutical products. In addition to grants for prescriber education, there also will be grants to educate consumers on related issues. Overall, the Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program anticipates awarding over $20 million in grants.

These grants represent a concerted effort to develop educational materials for both physicians and consumers about the marketing techniques of the pharmaceutical industry, and provide information about how to critically evaluate the claims the pharmaceutical industry makes about its products. Recipients will influence the prescribing patterns of tens of thousands of physicians, clinical pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychiatric nurses, and future prescribers, such as medical and pharmacy students across the nation.

Springfield Consumer Bureau Chief Deborah Hagan and Assistant Attorney General Karen Winberg-Jensen handled the case for Madigan’s office.

The Special Committee will be conducting additional grant solicitations in the future. Information regarding future grants will be posted on the National Association for Attorneys General Web site at www.naag.org.

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