Dr Drew is notorious for receiving $275,000 from GSK ‘for his services’ to Wellbutrin. His reputation is in shreds due to him promoting this drug unabashed without admitting that he was actually getting paid by GSK to do so. In one particular and ridiculous radio interview he said Wellbrutin (an antidepressant) could have the effect of enabling women to have multiple orgasms. What a plonker; I wonder who participated in that particular study! An Article in the ‘Atlantic’ reported that Dr Drew’s habit of taking money from pharma doesn’t appear to end with GSK. The Article reported that Johnson & Johnson also paid Dr. Drew $74,500, just two years ago.
Last night I came across an old series of ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew’ and recorded it. I was interested to see what this guy was like and if he was believable. The show centres around celebrities who are in various stages of rehab for prescription and illegal drug abuse.
The one that I found really interesting was Gary Bushey, a well known actor. He had been in an accident a number of years before and had suffered a brain injury. Dr Drew enlisted the help of psychiatrist Dr Charles Sophy to test for lasting brain injury. He recommended Depakote. In fact, this drug was mentioned 5 times in about 54 seconds, twice by Dr Drew, once by Dr Sophy, and twice by Gary himself.
At the end of the meeting, referring to the drug, Gary asked ‘what’s in it for me?’ Dr Sophy answered “a better life”. Funny that; I was under the impression that pharma advertising on American television had to be accompanied with a list of all the possible side-effects. There was no mention that Depakote can come with a number of serious side-effects including depression, abnormal thinking, new or worsening mental or mood changes, emotional upset, depression, psychosis, aggression, hyperactivity, hostility, and behavioral deterioration. Then there is the suicidal thoughts here. That’s quite a number of possible side-effects omitted. A better life? Not necessarily!
In May 2012 Abbott Labs agreed to pay a fine of $1.5 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote, Here. According to this statement, the FDA approved Depakote for only three uses: epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines.
Unless I’m very much mistaken, Gary did not have Epilepsy, was not Bipolar and never mentioned having Migraines. Promoting this drug for Gary’s brain-injury on television is surely another example off-label promoting? I wonder who Abbott had to pay to get this advertising? Was it Dr Drew again, Dr Sophy, the TV Channel or all three? Either way, I’d bet my life that money changed hands here somewhere. Naughty, Naughty!
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- U.S. Dept. of Justice: Dr. Drew Pinsky Took Kickbacks to Promote Glaxo Drug Wellbutrin (shoppingblog.com)
- Glaxo Paid Dr. Drew to Talk Up Drug for Depression (newser.com)
- How Big Pharma and Dr. Drew Made a Fortune Deceiving America (alternet.org)
- Dr. Drew Bribed To Prescribe Wellbutrin, Government Claims (thefrisky.com)