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Big Pharma Bribery: Top Celebrity Doctors Paid by GlaxoSmithKline to Push Drugs

Lisa Garber
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July 4th, 2012
Updated 11/02/2012 at 4:41 pm
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pillsandmoney 235x147 Big Pharma Bribery: Top Celebrity Doctors Paid by GlaxoSmithKline to Push Drugs

Famed radio host and television personality Dr. Drew Pinskey—or just Dr. Drew—is one of the many physicians and ‘celebrity doctors’ accused of accepting money from the recently exposed pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline as incentive to push the antidepressant Wellbutrin.

Recently, the US government charged Glaxo with multiple misdemeanor criminal charges. These charges include Glaxo’s promotion of—and bribing professionals like Pinskey to promote—Wellbutrin for uses they failed to confirm with the Food and Drug Administration. Glaxo is paying a landmark fee of $3 billion in civil and criminal settlement charges.

Their email from Tuesday made no comments on their relationship with Pinskey but did add, “The complaint to which you refer concerns events in 1999.”

Consistent with my clinical experience”

By 1999, Pinskey had already developed a sort of stardom as the co-host of Loveline. The radio and call-in TV show moved to MTV in 1996. You might also remember him from his hallmark show Dr. Drew or Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

Despite being somewhat thrown under the bus by Glaxo, Pinskey insists his hands are clean. “In the late ‘90s I was hired to participate in a two-year initiative discussing intimacy and depression which was funded by an educational grant by Glaxo Wellcome [one of the companies that merged to form GSK]…. My comments were consistent with my clinical experience.”

Off-Label Claims by Paid Celebrity Doctors

Another one of celebrity doctors facing scrutiny is James Pradko, who also made “off-label” claims about Wellbutrin including its effectiveness in weight management, chronic fatigue syndrome, erectile dysfunction, and chemical dependences. Dr. Pradko declared in a phone interview on Tuesday that the complaints against him were out of context and his own comments “weren’t meant to sell drugs, ever.”

Court records note Pinskey also made “off-label” claims about the drug. In example, Wellbutrin is approved by the FDA only as an antidepressant, but Pinskey has been recorded saying that its ingredients “could explain a woman suddenly having 60 orgasms in one night.” Pinskey has also plugged for a Glaxo-affiliated website.

The Justice Department is to believe, of course, that Pinskey’s antics had nothing to do with the invoice to GSK for $275,000.

Additional Sources:

Wall Street Journal

The Daily Beast

From around the web:

  • Kat

    Put somebody in jail already! Money doesn't mean a thing to them.