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May 1
BrandWeek: Legal Maneuvers Signal New Phase In War Against Drug Touting Celebrities
Jim Edwards at BrandWeek has been publishing some very interesting stories lately about how the federal government and industry critics are honing in on relationships between celebrities and supplement/drug manufacturers.  Pharmaceutical companies and their public relations/advertising firms have long worked with famous faces in order to raise disease and product awareness.  Today however, celebrities and pharma companies have new worries.  According to Edwards:

“Dr. Robert Jarvik, who stars in TV spots and print ads for Pfizer's Lipitor anti-cholesterol brand, is resisting a subpoena filed by several labor unions seeking details on whether the drug is being marketed illegally. . . . The suit claims Pfizer created marketing materials that suggested Lipitor be used in patients with LDL levels of 130 ml/dL, thus including millions more people than the government had intended. . . .

The subpoenas seek any documents that Jarvik saw regarding Lipitor prior to making the ads; all his communications with Pfizer and its ad agencies; and copies of his compensation contracts. Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, was lead agency on the campaign.”

Pfizer and Jarvik are resisting the subpoena, stating that Jarvik is not a defendant and his commercials began airing “after the period which the unions have complained about.”

Pharma marketers (and their agencies) would do very well to pay attention to Edwards’ reporting on this issue.  If the government and lawyers start going after celebrities for participating in marketing campaigns, they may be (even more) loath to lend their star power to pharma’s cause.  Critics have long complained about celebrity campaigns, but these legal maneuvers signal a new phase in the campaign to curb this type of marketing.

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