Five years ago, drug maker Pfizer ended a $139 million advertising campaign featuring Robert Jarvick, inventor of the artificial heart, promoting the benefits of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor. The decision to pull the ads came after a Congressional committee raised concerns whether Pfizer was misleading the public by using Jarvick as its spokesman.
Jarvick graduated from medical school but is not licensed to practice medicine or write prescriptions. In the ads, he says he takes the drug and appears to be giving medical advice as a practicing physician. The ads also show him rowing on a lake, but the rower is a body double. Jarvick, according to reports, does not row.
“When consumers see and hear a doctor endorsing a medication, they expect the doctor is a credible individual with requisite knowledge of the drug,” said Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak.
The message Jarvick presented was that Lipitor was effective at lowering cholesterol, which in turn helps reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, recent studies have uncovered a new risk with statin drugs like Lipitor. The medication has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Those at greatest risk for developing the disease while taking statins are those with excess weight, high blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, smoking and high blood pressure. Additionally, postmenopausal women with other risk factors are at 46 percent greater risk for developing the disease while taking Lipitor. The risk of developing diabetes was greater in patients taking higher doses of the drug.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to serious health problems including vision and hearing problems, cardiovascular disease, amputations from nerve damage and Alzheimer’s disease.
Attorneys with Beasley Allen Law Firm are currently investigating cases of type 2 diabetes in patients who have taken Lipitor.