North Carolina Department of Justice
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AG Cooper announces $14.9 million in grants from drug settlement

Release date: 8/31/2005

Grants from national settlement to help educate consumers, doctors, pharmacists about drugs

Raleigh: Attorney General Roy Cooper today announced that nearly $15 million in grants are now available as part of a major consumer protection settlement with drug maker Warner-Lambert that resolved allegations of deceptive marketing of the company’s blockbuster drug Neurontin©.

“This drug maker pushed doctors to prescribe its drug for conditions the medicine wasn’t proven to treat,” said Cooper. “We put a stop to those illegal tactics and won millions of dollars that will go to help doctors and patients get fair information so they can choose drugs wisely.”

The grants are part of a May 2004 federal and state settlement where Warner-Lambert, now owned by Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, paid $430 million to resolve allegations that it illegally marketed Neurontin for “off-label” purposes not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Neurontin is a prescription medication approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy and post-herpetic neuralgia. Approximately 90% of Neurontin prescriptions, however, are for other conditions. North Carolina and the other states’ investigation of Warner-Lambert uncovered evidence that the drug maker undertook a massive marketing scheme to encourage doctors to prescribe Neurontin for off-label purposes.

The consumer protection share of the global settlement was approximately $40 million; seventy five percent of this money will go toward grants or toward an advertising program to provide balanced information about Neurontin and similar drugs to doctors and patients.

Phase One of this education 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. Grants will go to educate physicians, pharmacists, other health professionals, patients and their families about the drug-approval process, drug marketing, and how to access sources of fair and balanced information about drugs.

Phase Two of the education strategy will focus on conditions, specifically seizure disorders and psychological conditions, for which Neurontin has been prescribed. Details will be developed as the program progresses.

Proposals can be submitted by individual states or a group of states or other governmental entities; academic institutions; or not-for-profit organizations that have current section 501(c)(3) non-profit status and expertise and experience in health-related or consumer protection issues. Non-profits’ proposals must include written support from the Attorney General of a state where the organization operates. Requests for Proposal may be found at and at . Phase One proposals are due by October 7, 2005.

Cooper is a member of the Special Committee that will award the grants along with California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Florida Attorney General Charles J. Crist, New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott and Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell.