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PR, brand problems for ‘Dr. Drew’ following revelation that GlaxoSmithKline paid him

» Posted by on Jul 6, 2012

Dr. Drew Glaxo payroll
Problems for Dr. Drew following revelation he was on the Glaxo payroll, recommended the company’s drug, but never disclosed that fact to the public.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, the popular host on HLN and national radio host known to millions as “Dr. Drew,” trumpeted the use of the antidepressant Wellbutrin back in 1999 on his radio show–but he failed to mention that he was on the payroll of the makers of that drug, GlaxoSmithKline.

He told listeners that Wellbutrin “may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal” as much as other antidepressants do which is why he prescribes it.

That’s quite a ringing endorsement.

Turns out Glaxo paid Dr. Drew, but he did not mention that little, and-very-pertinent-fact. The information was revealed in a court filing years later attached to a complaint filed by the U.S. government against Glaxo.

Dr. Drew, himself, did not disclose it. Had it not been for the filing, we might never have known.

Is this harmful to Dr. Drew? Absolutely. Catastrophic, probably not–if he handles the fallout properly.

This is a big deal because the revelation goes straight to ethics and honesty. Most people likely would consider it a breach of ethics to extol the virtues of a certain drug and neglect to disclose that the company that makes the drug is paying you. Had he said the company pays him but he would recommend the drug even if the company did not pay him he would be fine. But he did not do that.

What he did was shady and less than than honest.

This is most certainly a black eye for Dr. Drew who dishes out advice and mentions specific drugs and treatment. It may make people question his advice in the future–especially when he makes mention of a particular brand or drug company.

Because Dr. Drew failed to disclose an important fact to the public it speaks to his credibility. He should take responsibility for his actions and not justify them. And as he’s apologizing for this breach of trust, he should reflect to the public that he “gets it” and he should promise to disclose these things in the future. Then he should and can move on. Doing anything less, i.e. hoping this just blows over and goes away, he runs the risk of trouble–particularly if he’s been on other drug company or manufacturer’s payrolls and never disclosed those arrangements either.

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Glenn Selig founded The Publicity Agency in 2007 and has represented some of the biggest newsmakers and most influential business leaders and companies nationwide. He is a frequent guest on MSNBC, Fox News Channel and on CNN. Reporters call him for an expert PR opinion on high profile cases to offer perspective. He also appears on air to publicly defend his clients. View the PR firm website and follow him on Twitter @GlennSelig