Waxman eyeing off-label drug, stent use

A congressional committee has begun an examination into the off-label use of drugs and heart stents. California Democrat Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has asked three drugmakers for marketing materials for drugs that have come under scrutiny over whether they have been promoted for unapproved uses. The companies include: Eli Lilly, whose antipsychotic Zyprexa achieved $4.4 billion in 2006 and was the company’s best-selling Rx product; and AstraZeneca, which makes schizophrenia drug treatment Seroquel and Cephalon, whose marketing of painkillers Actiq and Fentora has been under investigation by the Connecticut attorney general. The committee also asked Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis Unit, the only makers of drug-coated stents sold in the US, to submit marketing materials and clinical data. Approximately 60% of drug-coated stents, which prop open clogged arteries, are used off-label.