"We need to be holding their hand and whispering in their ear Neurontin for pain, Neurontin for monotherapy, Neurontin for bipolar, Neurontin for everything," sales reps at Park-Davis, now Pfizer, were told in 1996 by senior executive John Ford. "I don't want to hear that safety crap either."
Eight years later, after thousands were harmed or killed from such off-label marketing -- Neurontin could only be legally promoted for seizures and post-shingles nerve pain -- a judgment against Pfizer awarded $430 million to the nation's Attorneys General who earmarked $21 million for training products for prescribers to help prevent future Neurontins.
Last week representatives from 23 medical centers, medical boards, accrediting agencies, the AMA, FDA, VA, the American Medical Student Association, nurse and pharmacist organizations and Attorney General offices pooled their educational initiatives, some already institutionalized into medical schools, at a Critical Prescribing Skills conference in Chicago, hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC).
No snappy Crestor or Vytorin tote bags were seen among the 150 participants and conflict of interest sheets revealed 40 of 42 speakers had none. But conference attendees were less interested in bashing drug reps' high flying sales tactics than learning from them and even incorporating them into their own drug teaching and learning as "academic detailing."