Glaxo Paid Dr. Drew to Talk Up Drug for Depression

He got $200K over 2 months in 1999
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2012 7:00 PM CDT
Glaxo Paid Dr. Drew to Talk Up Drug for Depression
Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of the CW television series "Dr. Drew's Lifechangers," makes a point during a panel discussion.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

(Newser) – GlaxoSmithKline this week agreed to pay $3 billion to settle a fraud case alleging that it took too many liberties in how it promoted its drugs, and Forbes notes a high-profile name mentioned in court documents: Dr. Drew Pinsky. Prosecutors said Glaxo paid Dr. Drew $275,000 over two months in 1999 to talk about Wellbutrin SR, an antidepressant, "in settings where it did not appear Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK."

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Dr. Drew did so, as a transcript from a radio show he appeared on at the time makes clear. He said he used Wellbutrin with his own patients because it had fewer side effects than its rivals. The FDA hadn't given Glaxo permission to make that claim, however, and thus "the spot is almost a textbook for the way drug companies have used speakers to promote medicines," writes Matthew Herper. "Everything Pinksy says is reasonable—anecdotally, Wellbutrin does seem to have few sexual side effects. But Pinsky’s comments (have) the effect of giving air time to a use of a medicine that Glaxo was not supposed to promote." Click for more, including a transcript of that radio appearance. (Read more Dr. Drew stories.)

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