Senators Just Say Whoa To Drug "Education"

Prescription pills"A Congressional investigation of the money that drug companies give as supposed educational grants has found that the payments are growing rapidly and are sometimes steered by marketing executives to doctors and groups who push unapproved uses of drugs." In 2004, 23 drug companies spent $1.47 billion on educational grants, a 20 percent increase from 2003. The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is "seeking more information" from the companies "about their use of educational grants." Senator Grassley said, "It's hard to see how you could call some of these grants 'educational.'" Companies are only allowed to market drugs for approved uses, though doctors can prescribe drugs for "off-label" uses. Off-label uses may account for up to half of all U.S. prescriptions. The industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America pointed to its "comprehensive voluntary guidelines ... that are designed to help keep marketing practices ethical."