Pill Shills and Marketing Ills

Prescription pills"Prozac Nation: Revisited," a show that aired on U.S. National Public Radio member stations, "featured four prestigious medical experts discussing the controversial link between antidepressants and suicide. ... All four said that worries ... have been overblown." But the show did not disclose that all four "have financial ties to the makers of antidepressants," or that the series that produced the show, "The Infinite Mind," has received "unrestricted grants" from drug companies including Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac. One guest, Peter Pitts, heads the industry-funded Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and is "senior vice president for global health affairs at the PR firm Manning Selvage & Lee," which counts among its clients Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and "more than a dozen other pharmaceutical companies." In other drug news, Congressman Bart Stupak held a hearing titled "Direct to Consumer Advertising: Marketing, Education or Deception?" Stupak said "he wants to lay the groundwork for future legislation to tighten controls on drug marketing," reports the Wall Street Journal. The hearing addressed such "recent controversies" as ads for Pfizer's Lipitor, where artificial heart inventor Robert Jarvik "appears to be giving medical advice," and ads for Johnson & Johnson's anemia treatment Procrit that promote off-label uses for the drug.