“I’m not a real doctor – but I play one on drug ads”

You may recall seeing Dr. Robert Jarvik‘s pleasant face on your TV screen a few years ago flogging Lipitor, the biggest-selling drug on the planet at that time, earning well over $12 billion a year for Pfizer – the biggest drug company on the planet.

This partnership emerged just as the company was seeking to protect Lipitor from emerging competition by cheaper generics, and just before a U.S. Congressional investigation started looking into Jarvik’s credentials and his controversial role as paid pitchman for the cholesterol-lowering statin drug. Continue reading

Paying celebrities to shill your drugs

Allergan’s Latisse is an eyelash-growing drug prescribed to treat a condition called hypotrichosis. This is a condition of no hair growth (not to be confused with the condition of alopecia, which describes hair loss where formerly there was hair growth).  That’s not how Allergan chose to describe the condition of hypotrichosis on its Latisse Patient Information sheet:

“Hypotrichosis is another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes.”

But as John Mack astutely notes in Pharma Marketing News:

“I imagine asking a woman if she has ‘adequate’ or ‘enough’ eyelashes is like asking a man if he has a ‘big’ enough or ‘hard’ enough penis. It is unlikely, therefore, that any woman wouldn’t want to try Latisse at least once.”

How then to get more women to ask more doctors to help sell more of this eyelash-growing drug?  Hire a famous person to pitch your product! Enter professional celebrity-for-hire (Volkswagen-Ford-Coppertone-LaZBoy-Colgate-Tupperware) Brooke Shields, who explains on her Latisse video diary how she also became a paid shill for this Allergan drug:      , Continue reading

Viagra goes generic: then what?

Jim Edwards asks a question that many Big Pharma watchers are asking, too: “What will happen when Viagra goes generic?”  The BNET pharmaceutical writer and former managing editor of Adweek offers this best guess in an AccessRx column:

“When the drug giant Pfizer loses its patent protection for its erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, any drug company will be able to make and sell a cheap generic version of the blockbuster drug. Doctors and lawyers believe that the expiration of Pfizer’s monopoly on the drug will be good news for patients, as it will force competition between Pfizer’s Viagra and the new generic versions, dramatically driving down the price not only of Viagra but also of Eli Lilly’s Cialis and Bayer’s Levitra.

“However, increased options and cheaper prices for patients will lead to some confusion in the marketplace as Pfizer defends the reputation of its original brand and pharmacies become flooded with copycat pills, many of which may be made in China Continue reading