Drug Ads Raise Legislators' Blood Pressure

The U.S. Congress is investigating "the pharmaceutical industry's use of celebrity endorsements in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements." First up are ads for Pfizer's cholesterol drug Lipitor, which feature the inventor of the artificial heart, Dr. Robert Jarvik. In the ads, Jarvik says, "Just because I'm a doctor doesn't mean I don't worry about my cholesterol." Representative John Dingell noted, "Dr. Jarvik appears to be giving medical advice, but apparently, he has never obtained a license to practice or prescribe medicine." Dingell is leading the investigation, along with Representative Bart Stupak. The lawmakers are asking Pfizer for "all of its records -- including contracts, e-mails and correspondence -- related to the advertising campaign, as well as all records related to Jarvik's financial association with the firm" and "materials detailing Jarvik's professional qualifications, his own use of Lipitor, and Pfizer's rationale for featuring him in the campaign." Other celebrity drug endorsers include former Senator Bob Dole and athletes Magic Johnson and Cal Ripken.