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Lipitor

Lipitor Spokesman Dr. Jarvik Investigated by Congress

Thursday, January 24, 2008 by: Teri Lee Gruss
Tags: Lipitor, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) On January 7th, 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations sent a letter to Pfizer, Inc. CEO Jeffrey Kindler regarding the direct to consumer (DTC) advertising Lipitor campaign featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik.

Anyone that watches TV or reads newspapers has seen Dr. Jarvik's ads, promoting Lipitor directly to consumers. Did you think that Dr. Jarvik was licensed in the US to practice and prescribe medications? If so, you aren't alone.

According to a Wall Street Journal Health Blog, posted on the website Pharma Marketing Network Forums, NBC Science editor Robert Bazell questioned Jarvik's credentials a year ago.

Apparently Jarvik was unable to get into medical school in the U.S., went to school in Italy and returned to the U.S. to graduate from the University Of Utah School Of Medicine. He did not complete an internship or practice medicine after graduation according to Mr. Bazell.

The House of Representatives letter, signed by committee chairman John Dingell and subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak states "We are concerned that Dr. Jarvik's qualifications may be misinterpreted in this advertisement campaign given that he may not be a practicing physician with a valid license in any state".

The committees have requested all information pertaining to Dr. Jarvik's Lipitor ads including contracts, emails, correspondence, scripts, his financial records, his medical records including diagnosis and his use of Lipitor, his professional qualifications and why Pfizer chose him as a spokesperson for Lipitor.

Pfizer has been given two weeks to submit the requested information.

Sourcewatch.org notes that only two developed countries allow direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceutical drugs, the U.S. and New Zealand.

In the Sourcewatch.org article on DTC advertising they say that critics of the practice are concerned that "potentially serious adverse side effects are understated and buried in the fine print" that we see at the bottom of ads and in the fast talk at the end of TV commercials.

Sourcewatch.org also reports that in 2006 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the practice of DTC and found that "of 64 drugs (reviewed) there was a median increase in sales of $2.20 for every $1 spent on DTC advertising".

DTC is a lucrative practice for the pharmaceutical industry but does it provide more of a public health risk than health benefit?

The House of Representatives' investigation of Pfizer spokesman Dr. Jarvik will hopefully initiate an end to the practice of direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising in the US.

Sources:

(http://www.fdanews.com/newsletter/article?is...)

(http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/11....Pfizer.Jarvik.pdf)

(http://www.forums.pharma-mkting.com/showthre...)

(http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=D...)

About the author

Teri Lee Gruss, MS Human Nutrition

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