Senators question pharma companies on state educational grants

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The top two lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee sent letters to the nation's largest pharma companies Friday seeking information about educational grants given to state governments and agencies, The Wall Street Journal reported this afternoon.
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R.-Iowa) and Sen. Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) said they were concerned some of the grants served as product promotion rather than general education, the Journal report said.
Letters were sent to about two-dozen companies including Pfizer, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Eli Lilly and Sanofi-Aventis.
The senators said they want to know more about the practice to ensure that it isn't a "back-door way to funnel money to doctors and other individuals who can influence prescribing and purchasing of particular prescription medicines," according to the newspaper report.
Companies were asked to provide information on policies for providing educational grants and reveal the number of grants given to states and other organizations since 2000.
The committee requested the information be provided by the end of July.
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