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Capitol Health Call
August 10, 2005

Off-Label Promotion

JAMA. 2005;294(6):673. doi:10.1001/jama.294.6.673-d

The Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation on July 5 into whether Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, NJ) made educational grants to physicians to promote off-label pediatric use of the heartburn medication cisapride in the 1990s, despite internal company documents raising safety concerns, the New York Times reported July 6.

Sen Charles E. Grassley (R, Iowa) and Sen Max Baucus (D, Mont) sent a letter to Johnson & Johnson’s chief executive requesting information about grant recipients and the amount and purpose of the grants. The letter also cited a New York Times article that described how, during the 1990s in the face of growing evidence of heart problems and deaths related to cisapride, the company helped pay for a physician-written book recommending cisapride use in children and provided grants to pediatric gastroenterology organizations that also backed the use of the drug.

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