The director of external relations for Procter & Gamble, Mark Chakravarty, recently told a UK healthcare PR conference that the drug industry is less than popular with the public. "There is a high suspicion of the pharma industry. Greed, dishonesty and fraud are some of its associations. The clinical trial press this week and an increased number of drug scandals add to this image," he said.
"Congress' ability to curb the explosive rise in drug costs is a bellwether of the political prospects for health care reform," writes Merrill Goozner.
Ray Moynihan reveals that while educational events have been advertised to Australian medical practitioners as being independent, behind the scenes sponsoring drug companies were being offered the chance to nominate speakers and topics relating to their drugs.
In early January, the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce began investigating celebrity endorsements in television ads for brand-name drugs. The investigation was sparked by Pfizer's commercials for its best-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor. These direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads feature Dr. Robert Jarvik, a pioneer in the development of the artificial heart. Viewers are not told that Jarvik is not a cardiologist, nor is he licensed to practice medicine. His presentation as a trusted expert, Pfizer presumably hopes, is enough to persuade viewers to ask their doctors for Lipitor by name. And that would help erode the increasing competition from generic alternatives.
The pharmaceutical company Merck agreed to a $650 million settlement to escape charges that it routinely overbilled the U.S. government for medicines.
"The American public deserves to know when someone is trying to persuade them." — U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Thursday, January 17, 2008
Front Groups Beware of Full Frontal Scrutiny
Today, the Center for Media and Democracy and our partners at Consumer Reports WebWatch launched an exciting new project: Full Frontal Scrutiny. The site seeks to shine a light on front groups -- organizations that state a particular agenda, while hiding or obscuring their identity, membership or sponsorship, or all three. Google the term "front groups" and the number one return is CMD's extensive articles on its SourceWatch site.
The pharmaceutical companies Merck and Schering-Plough, which co-market the cholesterol drug Vytorin, "have gone into damage-control mode, taking out newspaper ads." The PR campaign follows the companies' reluctant publication of a study showing that neither of the drugs present in Vytorin "reduced the buildup of fatty plaque in arteries." The study "