Victims of Our Own Advertising, Claims Drug Industry Boss

The CEO of Pfizer, Hank McKinnell, says that a priority for the drug industry is regaining public trust. "We’ve done considerable research on this. We’re starting to use what little legislative muscle we have to improve the situation by working on the Medicare prescription benefit package," he said. McKinnell attributes part of the industry's unpopularity to "our direct-to consumer advertising" of prescription drugs. "We didn’t do enough to strengthen and reinforce the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. It was a consequence of our success that we created visibility for products and many people in the public said, 'That would be nice, but we can’t afford it.'" McKinnell didn't mention recent scandals that have rocked the industry, such as the recall of Merck's Vioxx in 2004, industry secrecy over its marketing practices, controversy over the funding of patient groups or its disease mongering. According to O'Dwyer's, McKinnell identified corporate social responsibility as a way for pharmaceutical companies "to be seen as part of the solution."