Television commercials and print ads featuring a prominent physician promoting a popular heart disease medication are the targets of a House investigation into celebrity endorsements of prescription drugs, the Congressmen chairing the probe announced Monday.
Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said Monday their investigation into celebrity endorsements in direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising would focus specifically on the appearance of Dr. Robert Jarvik in commercials for Pfizer's heart medication Lipitor.
In the statement, Dingell said he and Stupak were concerned that Jarvik, who he said does not have a license to practice or prescribe medicine in the United States, appears to be giving medical advice in the ads and that consumers could be misled into taking Lipitor by a person not qualified to give that advice.
In a letter dated Jan. 7 to Pfizer CEO Jeffrey B. Kindler, Dingell and Stupak request Pfizer turn over records relating to Jarvik's relationship with Pfizer, connection with Lipitor and medical qualifications, including communications and financial records, to the House sub-committee.
Dr. Robert Jarviks is the inventor of the Jarviks artificial heart and has been touted as the first "real" doctor to be paid to endorse a prescription medication.