By: CHRISTOPHER SNOWBECK
The state is investigating how Pennsylvania officials used drug company payments while they were developing schizophrenia treatment guidelines that featured those companies’ medications.
The drug company money had been deposited in an unauthorized account that the state officials used for a variety of purposes, including trips to out-of-state professional meetings.
The treatment guidelines promote the use of newer schizophrenia medicines for about 900 patients in state psychiatric hospitals. Since the guidelines were put in place between 2001 and 2003, many patients have seen improvements, according to patient advocates…
The Philadelphia Inquirer
By John Sullivan INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Two pharmaceutical companies paid nearly $14,000 into an unauthorized state bank account that was used by state mental health officials for travel, meals and other expenses at a time when the drugmakers were courting state business, records show.
Janssen Pharmaceutica and Pfizer Inc., also paid at least $10,000 to two state officials who helped win approval for a mental-health treatment plan that uses drugs manufactured by the companies, according to interviews and a review of documents from the state Office of Inspector General. Those payments – some of which went to charity and the general state fund – were for speaking engagements and attendance at company meetings.
State and federal officials are examining the connection between the payments and the state’s program…
The New York Times
By MELODY PETERSEN
THE drug industry has created vast markets for products like Viagra, Celebrex and Vioxx by spending billions of dollars on consumer advertising.
But to sell medicines that treat schizophrenia, the companies focus on a much smaller group of customers: state officials who oversee treatment for many people with serious mental illness. Those patients — in mental hospitals, at mental health clinics and on Medicaid — make states among the largest buyers of antipsychotic drugs.
For Big Pharma, success in the halls of government has required a different set of marketing tactics. Since the mid-1990’s, a group of drug companies, led by Johnson & Johnson, has campaigned to convince state officials that a new generation of drugs — with names like Risperdal, Zyprexa and Seroquel — is superior to older and much cheaper antipsychotics like Haldol. The campaign has led a dozen states to adopt guidelines for treating schizophrenia that make it hard for doctors to prescribe anything but the new drugs. That, in turn, has helped transform the new medicines into blockbusters.
Ten drug companies chipped in to help underwrite the initial effort by Texas state officials to develop the guidelines. Then, to spread the word, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and possibly other companies paid for meetings around the country at which officials from various states were urged to follow the lead of Texas, according to documents and interviews that are part of a lawsuit and an investigation in Pennsylvania…