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Pfizer pays record $2.3 billion in off-label drug marketing settlement

A $2.3 billion settlement with Pfizer Inc. over off-label drug promotion has industry observers wondering whether the record-breaking deal will deter drugmakers from talking up unapproved medication uses with doctors. A Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co., agreed to plead guilty in early September to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding its COX-2 inhibitor, Bextra, for off-label uses. The company agreed to pay $1.3 billion in criminal fines for systematically promoting off-label Bextra use to physicians through marketing materials, drug rep talking points and more. Pfizer will pay another $1 billion to settle whistle-blower lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act that alleged the company promoted off-label uses of Bextra, Geodon, Zyvox and Lyrica from 2001 to 2008. According to whistle-blower lawsuits and the settlement, Pfizer allegedly used tactics such as ghostwritten articles and drug rep-falsified doctor requests for off-label informa ...

Web site shows what health insurers pay Minnesota doctors, clinics

Minnesota has announced what Gov. Tim Pawlenty called the first online tool in the nation that allows patients to see what insurance companies pay for common medical procedures. Minnesota Community Measurement, a coalition of health plans and medical organizations that includes the Minnesota Medical Assn., in August began offering cost reports on its Web site ( Pawlenty announced the site at an Aug. 26 news conference and hailed it as a big step forward in letting patients comparison-shop by looking at the cost data on 105 procedures, as well as the quality information that the site has collected over the last five years. "This is just a first step for us," said Jim Chase, president of Minnesota Community Measurement. "We're going to have to get better at providing more information and a way that consumers will be able to act on." Noel Peterson, MD, a urologist with Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., who serves as president of the Minnesota ...

Some states still prohibit hospitals from hiring doctors; physicians want to keep it that way

Medical associations in California and Texas have been battling legislation that would allow rural hospitals to directly hire doctors -- a move some physicians say threatens to undermine their independent medical judgment and hinder patient care. Most states allow for direct hospital employment of physicians -- a growing trend in recent years as doctors increasingly seek more financial stability. California and Texas, however, are among only a handful of states that generally prohibit hospitals from employing doctors, under long-standing laws aimed at preventing corporate interference with the practice of medicine. Hospitals have sought the right to hire doctors in the Golden and Lone Star states, saying the changes are necessary to recruit doctors to underserved areas. The California and Texas medical associations don't dispute the need to address shortages. But they say there are other ways to recruit doctors without thwarting medical independence, such as reducing medical s ...