The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants the biotech and the health care giant to turn over documents concerning promotion of their anemia drugs, which have been linked to increased risk of death at high doses. In particular, the documents include DTC ads for Johnson & Johnson's Procrit, and Amgen's contracts with oncologists, because the committee is concerned that the biotech offered discounts on two of its other meds - Neupogen and Neulasta - in return for prescribing Aranesp. And so ad materials are sought for those two treatments as well.
"We are concerned that such 'bundling' practices may have helped fuel excessive and dangerous off-label use of Aranesp," John Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the committee, wrote a letter to Amgen ceo Kevin Sharer. This is the letter.
The committee wants to know how many docs signed so-called bundled contracts, how much money was spent on that practice, and how much was spent on DTC ads for Neupogen and Neulasta. J&J is being asked how much was spent to advertise Procrit, and why DTC ads, which began in 2001, were stopped in 2005. The Procrit TV commercials in 2001 told consumers the drug could boost their energy and provide "strength for living," and the committee is concerned J&J made "unsubstantiated" quality-of-life claims. This is the letter to J&J ceo Bill Weldon.
Last year, the same committee targeted both companies over their advertising and promotion.