Pfizer cans Lipitor ads, vowing 'clarity'

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Pfizer pulled Lipitor ads featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik and vowed that it is “committing to ensuring greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of its spokespeople in its consumer advertising and promotion.”

In a Feb. 25 statement, Pfizer's Ian Read, president of worldwide pharmaceutical operations, defended Jarvik, the campaign and DTC but said: “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.”

“Going forward, we commit to ensuring there is greater clarity in our advertising regarding the presentation of spokespeople,” Read said, adding that future campaigns, “to be launched in several weeks,” will continue to stress the importance of patients talking to their doctors.

Kaplan Thaler Group handles consumer advertising on the brand. For the first three quarters of 2007, Pfizer spent $118 million on Lipitor DTC ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The ads became the target of a congressional investigation in January. The resulting news coverage, including the revelations that Jarvik was promised $1.35 million for his participation in the campaign and that a stunt double portrayed him rowing across a lake, was embarrassing for Pfizer. 

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