He is the Michael Jordan of the chest cavity…and a peddler of Pfizer’s cholesterol drug, Lipitor. For the past 2 years, this non-practicing MD, Dr. Robert Jarvik, has lent his name and his fame to Pfizer and now Congress wants some answers. So what?
For starters, this ad campaign is the equivalent of Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” Campaign. “Be Like Mike Jarvik” that is…take Lipitor, you can run, row, hang out with your son…and if Dr. Jarvik, a heart expert, is doing it, perhaps you should too. Dr. Jarvik is not a cardiologist, but he invented the artificial heart. How he went from that to a pitching for the druggies is beyond me…a new low.
It’s time to stop. Hey big pharma and your pitch people, I am sure your research tells you that the majority of your audience did not go to medical school, so bombarding them with brand name drugs only puts pressure on the docs to subscribe, right folks? It’s makes a mocry of medicine and of the audience because now suddenly every dick, jane and harry (steve too), is talking about your drugs, and recommending to their friends like their favorite shampoo.
I find this amazing considering Americans are sold on the false perception that they have the best healthcare on the planet, and big pharma is spending billions on marketing. Don’t get me wrong, as a marketer, I welcome advertising and marketing, as long as we cut out the BS. There are other ways to market drugs, advertising is certainly one way, another would be by educating physicians on their benefits and side effects and providing consumer information on the web or in brochure form.
According to nytimes.com, since coming under fire, Dr. Jarvik recently stated on his website, “I believe the process of educating the public is beneficial to many patients, and I am pleased to be part of an effort to reach them.” [author's note - Que? What? Is this Dr. Phil?] Where do I start respond to that statement? What “process of education” is he talking about?
This is advertising Dr. Jarvik not community health.
Now it’s Pfizer’s spin mister’s turn…check out this quote from The New York Times Article: “Pfizer stands behind its consumer advertising for Lipitor and our work with Dr. Jarvik to deliver important information on managing heart health,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Our primary concern in all of our advertising is that the tone and content are appropriate for the intended audiences, and that it will ultimately result in encouraging valuable patient/physician dialogue that can lead to appropriate treatment.”
Allow me to interpret sil vous plais (that’s French for please for your non Francophiles)…Pfizer will sell Lipitor how it pleases. Pfizer shall use phrases like “managing heart health…encouraging valuable patient/physician dialogue” to ensure that you know that they care about you and to make sure that you buy Lipitor…Ask your doctor folks, ask your doctor…
Since coming under fire, Dr. Jarvik recently stated on his website, “I believe the process of educating the public is beneficial to many patients, and I am pleased to be part of an effort to reach them.” [author's note - Que? What? Is this Dr. Phil?] Where do I start respond to that statement? What process of education is he talking about?
Look, big pharma is not in the public health business, they are in business to sell drugs. There’s nothing wrong with advertising, and these guys are entitled to advertise and make money. But let’s keep honesty as a big part of the game…Consumers and marketers ought to demand it.
Oh and note to whoever makes that restless leg syndrome drug (see you haven’t advertised enough). My friends told about the upcoming restless leg syndrome epidemic. So I got worried the other day when I found my leg shaking a bit for no reason. So I ignored it, and it went away.
Whew, that was close!