Yesterday, pharma biggie GlaxoSmithKline settled for $3 billion with the Justice Dept. over a wide range of fraud-related allegations. Among all the documents involved in the case are claims by the DOJ that GSK paid TV/Radio personality Dr. Drew Pinsky a pile of cash to talk up off-label uses of the company’s antidepressant Wellbutrin, including a purported tie to causing multiple orgasms in females.
The allegations date back to March and April 1999, when the good doctor was co-hosting Loveline on both the radio and on MTV… and also possibly getting paid $275,000 to mention Wellbutrin without revealing that he was getting paid to do so.
In its complaint, the DOJ includes invoices from a PR firm working on Pinsky’s behalf to GSK for his drug-pushing services.
Apparently Wellbutrin doesn’t necessarily sap one’s libido like many other antidepressants can, and has been known to actually boost some patients’ sex drive. This made sexperts like Pinsky the perfect people to go out there and do some guerrilla marketing to the public, claims the DOJ.
Forbes.com writes about a transcript, included in the DOJ complaint, of Drew’s appearance on David Essel’s national radio show:
According to the transcript, the Essel show began with a clip from a woman who said she had 60 orgasms in a row, “just nonstop.” When asked if this was even possible, Pinsky replied, “Oh yeah. For some women. What I think she was amazed about was it just suddenly started and that kind of thing most typically happens from medication, frankly.” He then segues into saying that that is what he is on the show to talk about. Soon he’s talking about how Wellbutrin (he also mentions the generic name, bupropion) is the medicine he’s had the most experience with in his practice when it comes to avoiding the sexual side effects of antidepressants. “It actually is the one we advocate, one of the things we suggest people do if they’re getting a decrease in their libido or decrease in their arousal which typically occurs in the serotonin re-uptake inhibitor medication.”
The PR company made a note to Glaxo that “Dr. Pinsky communicated key campaign messages” during his appearance.
While Dr. Drew is usually one to give a quote to just about anyone who asks, Forbes.com’s attempts to wring a statement out of the doctor were fruitless.