On May 13, 2004, Warner-Lambert, a division of Pfizer, Inc., entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance/Discontinuance with the Attorneys General of 50 States and the District of Columbia to settle allegations that Warner-Lambert conducted an unlawful marketing campaign for the drug Neurontin® that violated state consumer protection laws. Among other things, the settlement provides for a $21 million Consumer and Prescriber Education grant program to be administered by a Special Committee of State Attorneys General pursuant to an Oregon Court Order.
The Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program will fund programs designed to provide health care professionals and consumers with information relating to prescription drugs, including the way in which drugs are marketed. The first rounds of grants focused on prescriber education. The second round focused on consumer education.
THE PRESCRIBER PROGRAM
The goals of the Prescriber Program are to improve prescribing practices by: 1) educating health professionals at all levels of training about the drug development and approval process; 2) making health professionals aware of pharmaceutical industry marketing practices and assisting them in developing the knowledge and skills to evaluate those marketing techniques; and 3) providing examples and strategies for evaluating existing sources of drug information, and for accessing unbiased sources of information about drugs.
Following a Request for Application process, the program awarded 28 grants to Academic Institutions and non-profit organizations to fund the development, dissemination and evaluation of curricula to provide practicing health professionals, and those in training, with the critical skills necessary to evaluate prescription drug information and industry marketing techniques, and to apply this knowledge to their own prescribing practices. LINK TO FUNDED PROJECTS
THE CONSUMER PROGRAM
The goal of The Consumer Program is to improve the clinical and economic value of prescription drugs by educating consumers about sound purchasing concepts, reliable sources of drug information and marketing practices of the pharmaceutical industry.
After a Request for Application process, the Special Committee awarded a grant to Consumers Union with the following objectives:
- Enhance public understanding of issues surrounding prescription drug effectiveness, safety and side effects, and costs, and help consumers make informed drug comparisons;
- Empower consumers to talk with their doctors, pharmacists, and other providers about their prescription drug choices; and
- Provide consumers with early drug safety alerts and information about off-label use;
- Improve health outcomes by enhancing drug compliance and treatment adherence.
The work is structured around the following five goals:
- Increase the usefulness and use of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs by expanding the categories and increasing the frequency of report updates.
- Increase public awareness of prescription drug choices and value through a social marketing campaign that aims to enhance public understanding surrounding prescription drug effectiveness, safety, side effects and costs, and helps consumers make informed drug comparisons.
- Test the success of dissemination strategies to the target audiences and through web-based technology networks.
- Enhance the content distributed by Consumer Reports on drug safety and off-label use to better educate consumers.
- Measure the impact of the use of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs and specific strategies to educate consumers about their drug choices.
Principal Investigator: Doris Peter, PhD