Dr. Drew Pinsky has become a very wealthy man, at least partly by taking money under the table from drug companies to promote “off-label” uses of drugs that those companies cannot legally promote or advertise. And all of this was revealed by a recent legal settlement by one of those drug companies. Slate reports:
Thanks to the Justice Department, we now know of a Dr. Drew payday large enough to trigger a reverie or two. As part of its monstrous $3 billion settlement with the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the DOJ unsealed documents showing that the dear doctor had taken in at least $275,000 for “services for Wellbutrin.”
Precisely how can one service an antidepressant like Wellbutrin? According to the government’s complaint, Dr. Drew was hired to “deliver messages about [Wellbutrin SR] in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK.” After Pinsky suggested that Wellbutrin might be responsible for increasing a woman’s orgasm rate—to as many as 60 orgasms in a good night—an internal GSK memo noted approvingly that Dr. Drew had “communicated key campaign messages” about Wellbutrin to the public…
In Dr. Drew’s case, the Justice Department isn’t the first to point out that he’s been taking money from pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers. In January, while researching conflicts of interest caused by pharmaceutical payments, I discovered that Pinsky had taken $115,000 from Janssen Pharmaceuticals. When the news went public, Janssen was the first to defend Pinsky, stating that the money was for a program “aimed at educating teens, parents, and educators about the prevalence and serious risks of teen prescription drug abuse in the U.S. …” And Alison Rudnick, a spokesperson for CNN’s Headline News network, home of the show Dr. Drew, emailed me to confirm that, if appropriate, “Dr. Drew would provide an on-air disclaimer if he were to do a story involving Janssen Pharmaceuticals.” Be that as it may, there was no such disclaimer last week when the subject of the Dr. Drew show was gastric bypass surgery—even though the Los Angeles Times had an article in December questioning the propriety of Pinsky’s role as a spokesperson for 1-800-GET-THIN, a lap-band surgery marketing firm. (A source at Headline News says that the lap-band deal had elapsed by the time the gastric bypass show aired, so no disclosure was necessary.)
I see a new reality show: Greed Rehab, with Dr. Drew Pinsky. I’m sure Gary Busey’s agent would love to get him on the show.