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Friday, February 29th 2008

Talk About Backtracking

Remember all the hoopla about doctor’s in direct to consumer pharmaceutical ads that has arisen lately? Well, Pfizer is getting the hell out of the way of the controversy by killing the Dr. Jarvik-Lipitor ads

Pfizer has spent more than $258 million advertising Lipitor since January 2006, most of it on the Jarvik campaign, as the company sought to protect Lipitor, the world’s best-selling drug, from competition by cheaper generics.

But the campaign had come under scrutiny from a Congressional committee that is examining consumer drug advertising and has asked whether the ads misrepresented Dr. Jarvik and his credentials. Although he has a medical degree, Dr. Jarvik is not a cardiologist and is not licensed to practice medicine.

The [House Committee on Energy and Commerce] investigation has rekindled a debate over the so-called direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals, a $4.8 billion business. Mr. Dingell and Bart Stupak, another Michigan Democrat who heads an investigations subcommittee, applauded Pfizer’s decision to pull the Lipitor ads.

“I commend Pfizer for doing the right thing and pulling the Lipitor ads featuring Dr. Jarvik,” Mr. Stupak said in a statement. “When consumers see and hear a doctor endorsing medication, they expect the doctor is a credible individual with requisite knowledge of the drug.”

While endorsing Pfizer’s decision, the committee showed no sign of shutting down its investigation. Mr. Stupak said the committee planned to meet with Dr. Jarvik and collect all of the documents it had requested.

Yeah, Congressional investigations and bad press will do that to ad campaigns.