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Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is withdrawing its advertising for the anticholesterol drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) after controversy over its promotional campaign.
The firm is also pulling TV adverts in the US featuring Dr Robert Jarvik, and has made a commitment to ensure “greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of its spokespeople”.
The doctor became a celebrity after his work on artificial hearts, but the ad campaign featuring him talking about Lipitor became the subject of an investigation by officials worried about his endorsement of the medication.
Pfizer’s president of Worldwide Pharmaceutical Operations, Ian Read, said: “The consumer advertising featuring Dr Jarvik, a well-respected heart expert and inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, provided valuable and medically accurate information about the risks of high cholesterol and how Lipitor can help patients reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke.
“Direct-to-consumer advertising is an important way to provide consumers with information about their health and treating disease, and at least 29 million Americans have talked to their physicians about a health condition for the first time after seeing a pharmaceutical advertisement.
“Nevertheless, the way in which we presented Dr Jarvik in these ads has, unfortunately, led to misimpressions and distractions from our primary goal of encouraging patient and physician dialogue on the leading cause of death in the world – cardiovascular disease. We regret this.
“Going forward, we commit to ensuring there is greater clarity in our advertising regarding the presentation of spokespeople.”
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