The Senate Finance Committee has begun a probe into Johnson & Johnson's use of educational grants for physicians to promote Propulsid in the 1990s, even as evidence steadily mounted questioning the safety of the heartburn drug for children. The inquiry follows an earlier New York Times story examining Johnson & Johnson's use of grants to groups supportive of Propulsid and its promotion of a book recommending its use. Propulsid was removed from the market in 2000 after dozens of patients taking the drug died. The committee will examine how drug companies used grants and education funds to promote off-label uses of a drug. Off-label drug use is common in medicine, but biopharmaceutical companies are prohibited from promoting it.
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