|"Whilst these originate in a different era for the company, they cannot and will not be ignored." |
Andrew Witty, Monday 02 July 2012
Documents released as part of a settlement between the Department of Justice and GlaxoSmithKline showed how the British drug maker hired the services of Dr. Drew Pinsky, a host of the radio show LoveLine.
The released documents reveal that Pinsky was paid over $100,000 in 1999 to promote the use of Glaxo's antidepressant Wellbutrin "in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK."
True to his word...ahem contract... Pinsky, according to court transcripts, delivered.
On May 22, 1999, Pinsky appeared on the David Essel Alive radio program. Before being introduced the show's listeners heard a woman phone-in to speak about how she had become "super multiple orgasmic", she told listeners, "...it doesn't seem that possible to me to have that many, we're talking, I counted 60 one night."
The show's host, David Essel, seemed amazed by the call. His introduction for Dr Drew confirmed this:
"We have an expert right now that is going to bring on in just a second and I'm going to ask him some questions about that call because it still amazes me...
"...I'm talking about Dr Drew Pinsky..."
This, it seemed, was a golden opportunity for Pinsky to 'big up' Glaxo's product Wellbutrin.
Essel asked Dr Drew if it was possible to have as many orgasms as the caller had claimed.
Dr Drew told Essel that kind of thing typically happened from medication. On being asked by Essel, "What type of medication would increase someone's orgasmic potential where they go from three or four to 60?", Dr Drew replied:
"Interestingly lots of antidepressants, but the one that I have most...I've seen that from in my clinical practice is Butrin or **Buproprion. It's actually the one we advocate, one of the things we suggest people do if they're getting decrease in their libido or decrease in their arousal from an antidepressant which frequently occurs in the serotonin reuptake inhibitor medication. We think about adding Wellbutrin..."
**Buproprion is marked as Wellbutrin and Zyban by GlaxoSmithKline
To be fair, Dr Drew did mention two other medications.
Payments made to Dr Drew can be seen in Fig 1 & 2
This isn't the first time GlaxoSmithKline have used the voice of well known celebrities.
In 2004 American football hero Terry Bradshaw was, it appears, hired by GSK to promote another of their antidepressants, Paxil [known as Seroxat in the UK]
Bradshaw had gone public regarding his battle with depression and he 'took to the road' as a mental health advocate. His tour, which took in 12 US cities, was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.
Glaxo even offered Bradshaw his own web page, hosted on their own website. Sadly, the page does not appear when using the original url but with the modern wonders of the internet we can still access it here.
Here's a snapshot of how it appeared in 2006
As activism goes I have to take my hat off to former Paxil activist Rob Robinson. There's a chapter in my book dedicated to Rob so I won't go into too much detail about him in this particular post other than he once put the fear of God into Terry Bradshaw.
Bradshaw had planned to visit the Fortwood Center in Chattanooga, the hometown of Paxil activist Rob Robinson. Rob, who had previously organised a protest outside the offices of GSK, felt obliged to be present during Bradshaw's speech and had informed readers of his ground-breaking Paxil Protest website of his intentions.
Bradshaw caught wind and decided not to show thus leaving the Fortwood Center red faced and out of pocket as they had spent thousands of dollars promoting the event, including billboards around the city.
When Glaxo's CEO, Andrew Witty made a statement yesterday regarding his company and their appalling behaviour he blamed bygone era's. Thing is, how far back does Witty blame, does he include Glaxo's use of Terry Bradshaw to promote Seroxat [Paxil] during the tour of 12 US cities or was he just referring to the documents that are now publically available on the Department of Justice website?
It's safe to assume that I am not a fan of GlaxoSmithKline or Paxil. Their constant misdemeanors strike me as having a total disregard for human health [few links at foot of this post].
Can we really trust what Andrew Witty has to say? - "On behalf of GSK, I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learnt from the mistakes that were made.”
Where is the cut-off point that Witty is referring to here, is it 1999, 2004 or any other year that he wasn't in charge? By laying the blame on era's, he lays the blame on former Glaxo chief, Jean Pierre Garnier, that's quite a buck-pass, even by Glaxo's standards.
Witty became CEO of GlaxoSmithKline in in May 2008, any misdemeanors from that date onwards cannot surely be blamed on era's, can they?
Here's a few:
Glaxo Fined £60,000 For Killing 14 Babies - In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline were fined a measly £60,000 for its part in the 2007/08 vaccine trials conducted in Argentina where 14 children died. This was approx 1 year before Witty took charge of GlaxoSmithKline, can 2007 be deemed as a lesson learned and an era that Witty would rather forget about?
There are many more, some of which happened during Witty's reign as Glaxo chief.
The video below highlights just some of Witty's era at GlaxoSmithKline, much of which can be blamed on his predecessor, JP Garnier or at least the era while Garnier was in charge.
One has to remember Witty's remark following Glaxo's $3 billion payout - "Whilst these originate in a different era for the company, they cannot and will not be ignored."
I can just hear old JP Garnier... plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.