Pfizer has decided to drop Dr Robert Jarvik from ads for Lipitor, Pfizers cholesterol-lowering drug, and the world's best-selling medication ( US$13.6 billion in 2006), after the US Congress (prompted by Michigan Democratic Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak) , said it was investigating whether Lipitor ads featuring Jarvik were misleading.
Pfizer President of Worldwide Pharmaceutical Operations Ian Read claims the ads provide valuable and medically accurate information about Lipitor, "the way in which we presented Dr. Jarvik in these ads has, unfortunately, led to misimpressions (add this to your dictionary along with "unclarity") and distractions."
Although Jarvik appears to be giving medical advice, he is not a practicing physician with a valid license in any state. Dr Robert Jarvik is the inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart and holds a degree in engineering from New York University and a medical degree from the University of Utah.
The company, says it is "committing to ensuring greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of its spokespeople in its consumer advertising and promotion," is planning a new Lipitor ad campaign in the coming weeks... which of course it was going to do ...er...anyway. Pfizer would naturally be looking at better ways to spend the US$258 million they have spent on Lipitor advertising since January 2006, most on the Jarvik campaign, to protect Lipitor, from competition from cheap generics.
If they want to "ensure greater clarity " they could start by stopping using words like misimpressions .
Maybe this could mark the end of celebrity endorsements of medication such as Pfizer paying senator and one time candidate Bob Dole to pitch Viagra in 1999 . Merck & Co. Inc. paid Olympic skating champion Dorothy Hamill to appear in ads for Vioxx which she probably deeply regrets now..
See Video of Ad there is an interesting new development to explain the action of statins here
UPDATE Tuesday 5.20 GMT : Lord Patel apologises for providing a"misimpression" ...it now transpires that Dr Jarvik does not row, and possibly doesn't even know how to row and that the ads feature a "body double".... as does our fuzzy screen grab from the Pfizer promo video.Which pisses off scullers who have been suckered by Dr Jarik's apparently flawless technique. Dr Jarvik is 65.
The ads also feature Dr Jarvik wearing a very clean White Lab coat, which he did learn how to use after several hours training ... just prior to collecting his US$1.35 million fee.
IAG research the recall of on ads on TV - these are the confidential results for Most Recalled New Prescription Drug Ads Sept 1, 2006 - Sept 23, 2007 Click to enlarge
Why shouldn't we allow pharma to advertise direct to the consumer ... alcohol suppliers are allowed to, and they cause more direct and indirect damage to people's and society's health than the pharma companies do. Lunesta ? .. "Lunesta helps you fall asleep quickly..." Zyrtec ? an anti-histmaine non-drowsy allergenic treatment was only available on prescription but two months ago was allowed for sale OTC . Rozerem is another insomnia treatment Crestor is a statin