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Feds Say Glaxo Paid Dr. Drew to Promote Wellbutrin on TV

Filed July 5th, 2012 Laurie

U.S. prosecutors say celebrity physician Dr. Drew Pinsky was paid by GlaxoSmithKline to “talk up” the antidepressant drug Wellbutrin SR “in a settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK.”

The Department of Justice has accused the drug-making giant of using a network of paid experts to speak to doctors and to the press to promote uses of its drugs that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Today GSK agreed to a $3 billion settlement with the department.

According to the government’s complaint, Dr. Pinsky received a total of $275,000 over from March 1999 to April 1999 to slyly deliver messages about the drugs. Prosecutors used invoices from the Cooney Waters public relations firm, as well as a transcript from Pinsky’s appearance on David Essel – Live!, a national radio program, to prove their case.
As part of the $3 billion settlement, GSK agreed to pay $27 million in criminal fines for its marketing of Wellbutrin SR and Paxil, another antidepressant.

Wellbutrin SR may actually boost sex drive, whereas other antidepressants are known to decrease libido. GSK had no FDA approval for promoting Wellbutrin SR as having fewer sexual side effects. Pinsky was paid by the company to talk about how he used the drug in clinical practice to treat patients who suffered from low sex drive while taking other antidepressants.

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