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On Wednesday, September 20, 2006, at the Commonwealth Club, London, England, a conference will be held to explore future strategies by international and United Kingdom (UK) agencies in international hospice and palliative care. The conference is for those interested in issues concerning international hospice and palliative care.

 

Presenters include the following:

 

* Dr Cecilia Sepulveda, World Health Organization, Geneva

 

* Mary Callaway, Open Society Institute, New York

 

* Professor David Clark, International Observatory on End of Life Care

 

* Dr Astrid Honeyman, CEO of The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund

 

* Anne Philpott, Department for International Development

 

* Graham Perolls, Hospice of Hope, Romania

 

 

Download more information and a PDF registration form at http://www.helpthehospices.org.uk/education/content/leaflet.pdf.

 

Alabama Neurologist and Specialist in Neuropathic Pain Evaluation and Management Sues Pfizer, Inc

In May 2006, David Longmire, MD, an Alabama neurologist and specialist in neuropathic pain evaluation and management, sued Warner-Lambert, Inc, and its parent company, Pfizer, Inc, for fraudulent misrepresentation, concealment, and deceit. The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Alabama, by cocounsel Paul W. Shaw, Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels LLP, Robert A. Griffith, Gargiulo/Rudnick LLP, and Michael L. Weathers, Attorney-at-Law.

 

This lawsuit arises from a May 13, 2004, prosecution in which Warner-Lambert and its Parke-Davis division, acquired by Pfizer in 2000, pled guilty to charges that it criminally violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. [S]331 et seq., associated with its marketing and sales practices for an epilepsy drug known as Neurontin.

 

Related to the 2004 case, Dr Longmire's lawsuit charges that Warner-Lambert defrauded him by exploiting his medical expertise and reputation and luring him to unwittingly participate in a deceptive scheme to market Neurontin for certain unapproved uses, commonly known as "off-label" uses. These uses included postherpetic neuralgia, painful diabetic neuralgia, anxiety disorder, social phobias, and bipolar disorder. As a result of the fraud, Dr Longmire's name has been included in multidistrict litigation lawsuits, thereby impugning his reputation among his colleagues and peers and calling his integrity into question.

 

According to the plaintiff's attorneys, Warner-Lambert tried to avoid the federal statutes and regulations that make it illegal for a manufacturer to promote off-label product usage by engaging in a number of fraudulent marketing schemes to promote the sale and use of Neurontin for off-label conditions. One of Warner-Lambert's fraudulent schemes involved using physicians to promote the off-label use of Neurontin. Off-label promotional prohibitions do not apply to physicians who can treat a medical condition with any prescription drug that would benefit the patient. Part of this fraudulent and deceptive scheme targeted neurologists and other pain specialists throughout the US, including Dr Longmire, to leverage their experience with the use of Neurontin for pain. These physicians were falsely told that Warner-Lambert intended to apply to the FDA for approval for the expanded use of Neurontin in the treatment of neuropathic pain.

 

Warner-Lambert provided study grants, solicited the targeted physicians to publish articles supporting the expanded use of Neurontin to reduce pain, and, through seemingly independent medical education companies, invited these physicians to speak at so-called consultants' meetings and educational events. Warner-Lambert represented that it was gathering the studies and articles as part of its effort to obtain clinical data to support an FDA application for the approval of Neurontin as a treatment for certain types of neuropathic pain.

 

Unknown to the targeted physicians, including Dr Longmire, Warner-Lambert had little or no intention of actually presenting either the results of the studies or the publications to the FDA. Also unknown to the targeted physicians is the fact that the seemingly independent medical education companies were actually controlled by Warner-Lambert to further this scheme.

 

For a copy of the complaint, please contact Lisa Murray at 617-856-8509 or lmurray@brownrudnick.com.

 

Six Surgical Teams Perform a Three-way Kidney Transplant

In June 2006, 40 clinicians, working simultaneously in six operating rooms, successfully performed New York City's first three-way kidney transplant at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia. Three patients who otherwise had no compatible donor received kidneys.

 

In New York City's first three-way paired kidney exchange, a Long Island man's kidney was donated to a55-year-old Warwick, NY, woman, whose husband donated his kidney to a 54-year-old New York City woman, whose brother-in-law donated his kidney to a 47-year-old Yonkers man. To ensure that no one withdrew from donating, all donors underwent surgery simultaneously. Donors represented locations including upstate New York, Long Island, and North Carolina.

 

The kidney recipients received their transplanted organs after waiting for up to 2 years, compared with an average New York waiting time of 6 years. Thousands of people die each year while on the waiting list for an organ transplant.

 

Paired kidney exchanges, or swaps, occur when willing and medically suitable living donors are found to be immunologically incompatible with their intended recipients (family members or friends). A search of the list of those awaiting kidney transplantation may reveal two or more such incompatible pairs, where the potential donor in one family-although incompatible with his or her family member or friend-is compatible with a different person on the waiting list who also happens to have a willing but incompatible donor. The donors then can each donate, but to the other intended recipient.

 

All kidney donors receive thorough medical and psychosocial screenings before donating and postoperative follow-up after donation. Evaluations include comprehensive testing to rule out any kidney disease or serious medical problems; potential donors must also be approved bya psychiatrist and a social worker. Donors can expect a normal, healthy life span equivalent to that of a person who has two kidneys. After surgery, the donor's remaining kidney compensates by growing larger.

 

Since its inception in 2004, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia's Donor Exchange Program has completed five kidney swap procedures. For more information on kidney swaps, patients can call 1-866-NYP-NEWS.

 

Based in New York City, New York-Presbyterian Hospital is the nation's largest not-for-profit, nonsectarian hospital, with 2344 beds. It provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory, and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewY ork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Pavilion, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. The hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.