ANOTHER DRUG MAKER SETTLES UP FOR ILLEGAL PRACTICES

May 13, 2004

MAY 13, 2004

MARCI A. ALEXANDER, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8555

LINDA CONTI, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, 207-626-8591

 

            Attorney General Steven Rowe today announced that Maine has joined other states and the federal government in settling claims against Pfizer company Warner-Lambert and its Parke-Davis division over illegal promotion of unapproved uses of the blockbuster drug Neurontin.  As a result, Maine’s Medicaid program, Mainecare, will receive approximately $1.6 million, of which about $600,000 is state funds. 

            In addition, all prescription drug consumers should benefit from the companies’ agreement to:

         Stop making false, misleading or deceptive oral or written claims about Neurontin and stop promoting off label uses in violation of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; 

         Stop misrepresenting the nature of scientific evidence relating to Neurontin; 

         Stop disseminating written materials that have not appeared in peer reviewed scientific journals in contravention of limitations set forth in the settlement;

         Stop misrepresenting the credentials of sales, medical and technical personnel;

         Stop providing information that is misleading or lacking in fair balance to drug reference compendia;

         Make disclosures about funding of research and educational events related to Neurontin;

         Require speakers at educational events related to Neurontin who have financial relationships with Warner Lambert or Pfizer from disclosing their relationship, including whether the speaker has been paid to promote Neurontin;

         Comply with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Code with respect to payments, gifts and remuneration to health care providers;

         Comply with Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education Guidelines; and

         Comply with federal anti-kickback laws.

 

The illegal conduct alleged included:

         Continuing medical education classes (“CMEs”) that lacked fair balance and misrepresented the nature of the CME and provided expensive “perks” to attending physicians; 

         A “publication strategy” that subsidized the production and dissemination of anecdotal reports favorable to off label use of Neurontin and were of no scientific value;

         Payments to prescribers for “research” that was, in effect, a kickback for off label prescribing; and, 

         Providing incomplete information about Neurontin to the drug reference compendium “Drugdex.”

 

Attorney General Rowe said, “We are fighting on many fronts to cut through elaborate drug industry schemes so that Maine doctors and patients have the best information for making health care purchasing decisions.”

For a national perspective on the settlement, click on this New York Times/Associated Press Story:

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Drug-Lawsuit.html

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