Physicians looking for unbiased information on drugs can now go to a new Web portal that offers free continuing medical information modules paid for with money from a pharmaceutical company.
Unlike other pharmaceutical company sponsored CME courses and conferences, the money for the Web site is not coming from a marketing budget. Its being funded with money from the $430 million that Pfizers Warner-Lambert division was ordered to pay in fines and civil damages after pleading guilty to fraudulent promotion of unapproved uses for its drug Neurontin in 2004. The Food and Drug Administration approved Neurontin for controlling epileptic seizures, but Warner-Lambert then also promoted it for the treatment of bipolar mental disorder, pain, attention deficit disorder, drug and alcohol withdrawal seizures, and other conditions.
The Web portal will be operated by the Federation of State Medical Boards' Research and Education Foundation, and the educational program will be run by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program whose current administer is Pam Curtis, the assistant director at the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
FSMB spokesman Drew Carlson said his organization is serving as distribution mechanism to physicians for the material, and was awarded one of the 28 grants made available from a pool of $21 million thats being used to fund the program.
The first two modules are already available and are titled: Drug Approval in the U.S.: How Drugs Get to Market and Generic Drugs: Prescribing Sensibly. They provide a brief history of the FDA, the requirements for new drug approvals, and information on how generic drugs are tested and approved. The programs were developed by PharmedOut, a project facilitated by physicians at 385-bed Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, a news release said.