Sleazy Celebrity Drug Pushers

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Several media reports this week suggest that celebrities such as Kathleen Turner, Ann Wilson, Rob Lowe, and others are involved in stealth advertising campaigns to push drugs on unsuspecting TV viewers.

Yahoo! news reported yesterday that one thing viewers are not made aware of when Kathleen Turner discusses her arthritis on national television is that she is being paid big bucks by big drug firms to do so. She is not alone. Several other celebrity spokespersons are being paid big $$$ to do the same. According to the Yahoo! report celebrities make as much as six figures per day pushing drugs.

I collected several links to related articles (see below) yet none of them actually came out and said the practice was sleazy. I could not think of a better term so sleazy just seemed to fit.

Others have said it this way…

“There’s something fundamentally wrong with lining your pockets with money and coming out and speaking about something like this.” – Cinny Kennard, a former CBS News correspondent. “It has become a hugely grey area as to where the stars’ charitableness begins and where their financial interests begin.” – Barry Greenberg, Hollywood talent agent. “It is highly problematic and maybe even unethical.” – Dr. Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the past year or so, dozens of celebrities, from Bacall to Kathleen Turner to Rob Lowe, have been paid hefty fees to appear on television talk shows and morning news programs and to disclose intimate details of ailments that afflict them or people close to them. Often, they mention brand-name drugs without disclosing their financial ties to the medicine’s maker.

According to various media reports, Kathleen Turner is sponsored by Amgen Inc. and Wyeth, two companies that market the arthritis drug Enbrel. Very simply, Turner is paid by both Amgen and Wyeth for her involvement in a campaign to educate people who are stricken with rheumatoid arthritis.

West Wing star Rob Lowe can be seen smiling on the front page of a new drug company-sponsored website for a chemotherapy cancer treatment. Rob will reportedly earn a million bucks for his role in the campaign. No wonder Rob is smiling.

Yahoo! News: Networks Crack Down on Paid Celebrity Drug Pitches
Salon.com: Celebrity pill pushers
Guardian UK: Well, if Kathleen Turner says it works…
Red Flags Weekly: Celebrity Big Pharma Pushers Finally Get Unmasked By TV Groupies
Red Flags Weekly: Side effects of celebrity drug pitches debated
Amgens By My Side: Rob Lowe With His $ Million Dollar Smile

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