Say Goodbye To Dr. Jarvik As He and His Stunt Double Row Into The Sunset

Weary of all the “fake rowing” controversy, Pfizer has canned Dr. Robert Jarvik (the inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart) as a spokesperson for their blockbuster cholesterol drug, Lipitor.

The “way in which we presented Dr. Jarvik in these ads has, unfortunately, led to misimpressions and distractions,” Pfizer’s president of world-wide pharmaceuticals, Ian Read, said. “Going forward, we commit to ensuring there is greater clarity in our advertising regarding the presentation of spokespeople.”

Jarvik, who wore a white coat in the ads even though he isn’t a licensed physician, and used a stunt-double for the rowing scenes in one commercial, isn’t going quietly. He’s issued a statement of his own. In it, Dr. Jarvik defends his use of a stunt double (The insurance company made him do it! Really!) and mourns his lost job:

I spent most of my summer vacation time during high school on the water, sailing, rowing, fishing, and scuba diving. At the time the ad was filmed, I was certainly fit enough to row for the shoot. I trained to row for it, and I intended to do so. But at the last minute, I was informed that the insurance carrier for the shoot would not permit me to row because the water temperature in the mountain lake at that time of year was about 40 degrees — so cold that if I had an accident, I could drown within minutes because of hypothermia. So the production company hired a rower experienced with that kind
of racing shell for the distant shots. It never occurred to me that anyone would consider this dishonest.

The message remains: heart health.

Recently, Pfizer chose to stop running the ads, through which I was able to appeal to so many viewers to pay attention to their heart health and to ask their doctors about Lipitor. My message has been sincere and correct — Lipitor can indeed help prevent heart disease in many millions of people, a great many of whom are not presently taking any cholesterol-lowering medication.

The full statement is can be read at the WSJ Health Blog. We’ve yet to hear back from as to why Sally Field (also not a licensed physician) is qualified to shill Boniva. And hey… do those Valtrex people really have herpes? The Consumerist respectfully declines to investigate.

Jarvik: My Credibility Was Justified and Fairly Represented [WSJ Health Blog]