Who is Dr. Drew Pinsky?
There are TV personalities and there are doctors. Some doctors are able to successfully straddle both worlds. Just because Dr. Oz is a media darling, I don't feel he's lost his credibility as a doctor. He dispenses good advice while being camera friendly. He seems to genuinely want to help people. I've even taken some of his advice.
Dr. Drew is all about the television persona. He may be an American Board certified internist and an addiction medication specialist, but under the hypnotic gaze of the camera, all his credentials disappear. He comes across as an actor playing a doctor. Maybe he does care about the car wrecks and hot messes he treated on Celebrity Rehab, but translated across gamma rays, his concern seems disingenuous. His pensive nods and squinted eyes seem like stage directions. While most doctors want to cure their patients, Dr. Drew seems to want to exploit his.
Now Drew Pinsky has come under fire for helping to market an antidepressant for uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Earlier this week a Boston judge approved a record $3 billion guilty plea by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. In papers filed, it was disclosed that Dr. Drew was paid $275,000 to tout Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, as a drug that also treats problems such as obesity, sexual dysfunction and additions.
At the time, Pinsky was hosting "Loveline" a radio program focusing on sex
and romance. He said on air that the drug was distinct from other antidepressants because it did not cause a decrease in sex drive— just the opposite, he claimed—despite the fact that the company did not have FDA approval for such a claim. And he didn't mention that he was a paid spokesperson for the company.
This seems like a big deal. But regular doctors often get paid by drug companies to promote certain drugs to their patients. When my daughter was younger, she suffered from epilepsy. Her neurologist sat down with us and recommended a drug that she said was the best and nothing came close. A few months later, she decided that the drug she had recommended was not so great but she'd found another drug that would be the perfect fit. She told us we needed to change drugs right away. We decided to change doctors right away.
As far as I'm concerned, doctors should have to disclose financial ties to drug companies. And doctors like Pinsky should be held even more accountable,
since their message extends from the examining room to the homes of millions of people. Will he get into trouble? Probably not. But the next time I see Dr.
Drew squinting his eyes and nodding his head because he really, really does
care, I'll make sure to change the channel.