DOJ Alleges Glaxo Paid Dr. Drew $275K To Talk Sexy About Wellbutrin

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.

Feds Say Dr. Drew Was Paid By Glaxo To Talk Up Antidepressant [Forbes.com]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. yankinwaoz says:

    You mean that everything on TV isn’t 100% true and honest? I’m shocked, I’m telling you. I’m shocked.

    I don’t know if Dr, Drew is a real doctor. Or just an actor playing one on TV. But if he is real, aren’t there regulations or rules about doctors taking payments from vendors to endorse or recommend a product? Or is that just naive of me?

    • Mr. Fix-It is trapped in a collection of half-working appliances says:

      Actually I think this particular instance was on the Radio… but your point remains valid, I suppose.

    • bd2008 says:

      Dr. Drew is a real doctor. He is an addiction medicine specialist.

      This looks really bad.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        Unfortunately plenty of “real” doctors use that fact to sell out. The small print in the drug ads usually say the doctors are “real” too, but compensated. What a scummy way to abuse your standing as an expert though.

  2. StarKillerX says:

    Wait, are you saying I shouldn’t get my advice on drugs from TV and/or Radio personalities?

  3. Mr. Fix-It is trapped in a collection of half-working appliances says:

    “…the Essel show began with a clip from a woman who said she had 60 orgasms in a row, “just nonstop.”…”

    Y’mean some people have to take drugs for this to happen? I had no idea… ;3

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    So he was paid the equivalent of a nice sized house while
    I will have to work for 30 years to pay off a mortgage?

    I wonder what people would have thought if he had to disclose
    during the show that he was paid $275,000 to push Wellbutrin.

    • Bladerunner says:

      That money could have bought 4 copies of my house, and I like to think it’s nice-sized.

  5. Bladerunner says:

    Oh, Dr. Drew, how could you!

  6. deathbecomesme says:

    That sucks. I really respected Dr Drew. He does a lot of good. But this just tarnishes his reputation big time. Too bad really.

    • bd2008 says:

      I know what you mean. I look forward to hearing his take on it.

    • Auron says:

      Yeah, I feel the same way. And this would have been a non-story if he would have made a brief statement at the time that was being compensated by GSK.

  7. FishtownYo says:

    How do you keep track of 60 orgasms? I would be too busy enjoying them to count…

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      How would you know where one stopped and another one ended? Wouldn’t they just keep rolling on through?

      How do you know it was 60 separate ones, and not just one long one? I’ve had some long ones.

  8. Ben says:

    Adam always said Drew would do anything for a nickel!

  9. Santas Little Helper says:

    “They drove a dump truck full of money up to my house! I’m not made of stone!” – Krusty

  10. cunnij says:

    the big drug companies are horrible, just horrible; once again they show no shame and will walk away with nothing more than a small fine (relatively speaking). Glaxo and Merck continue to kill people with their drugs while the FDA is in total collusion…

  11. Sarek says:

    So the difference between a TV doctor and a TV evangelist narrows?

  12. SanDiegoDude says:

    I get the feeling Dr. Oz does the same thing.

  13. OMG_BECKY says:

    Dr. Laura Berman of Oprah fame does the exact same thing…she’s nothing but a paid shill for the drug companies. There’s an entire documentary that uncovers this called Orgasm, Inc.

    Oh–and shouldn’t they be going after Dr. Drew as well?? It took two to dance that $275k tango.

  14. some.nerd says:

    Dr. Drew is kind of a sham anyways. If you ever llisten to his radio show he attributes 90% of callers’ problems to some sort of childhood/infantile sexual abuse. Highly unlikely, Pinksy!

  15. smo0 says:

    Shame on him. What a sack of shit.

  16. notanignoramus says:

    Wellbutrin can have some really nasty side effects that they probably didn’t mention – like heightened anxiety (which can inhibit orgasm), panic attacks, and manic episodes. It shouldn’t be taken without medical supervision. Yes, me-di-cal su-per-vis-ion; not just some pop psychologist’s recommendation.

    • notanignoramus says:

      To revise my statement, Dr. Drew’s bio does say he is board-certified in Internal and Addiction Medicine, but I personally think it’s unethical to recommend any drug beyond its FDA-approved usage when you are a medical professional.

      • Libertas1 says:

        Now that’s just silly.

        Case in point: One off label use for Elavil, a mood stabilizer, is using it in low doses for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.

      • Coelacanth says:

        Hello,

        Doctors are free to use drugs for off-label purposes. The problem getting GSK into trouble is *marketing* FDA-approved drugs for off-label uses.

        For example, for wet macular degeneration, Lucentis is an FDA-approved drug for the condition, but is extremely expensive. Many doctors realised that Avastin (a cancer drug preventing the growth of new blood vessels) also worked remarkably well – and if diluted – was far cheaper. However, this treatment was off-label for a very long time. (Not sure if it still is…)