Last week, a Congressional committee properly raked Big Pharma over the coals for misleading advertising of pharmaceuticals.
A hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight subcommittee focused on advertising campaigns for three drugs, including the remarkable case of Robert Jarvik. Jarvik is featured in endlessly re-run ads for Pfizer's blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor. Known as the inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, he is not a cardiologist, not a licensed medical doctor and not authorized to prescribe pharmaceuticals. He's shown in the ads engaged in vigorous rowing activity, but in fact he doesn't row. Pfizer pulled the ads in February after controversy started brewing.
Among industrialized countries, only the United States and New Zealand permit drug companies to market directly to consumers. It's a bad idea, it drives bad medicine, and it should be banned.
But although it has the highest profile, direct-to-consumer advertising is a small part of Pharma's marketing machine.
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