House objects to Pfizer's Lipitor pitchman

I'm not a practicing doctor, nor do I play one on TV--but I did go to med school! Promise! That's what we imagine Dr. Robert Jarvik (photo) saying to Congress when questioned about his role as cholesterol drug pitchman for Pfizer. House Democrats are investigating whether consumers are misled by Jarvik's endorsement; though he invented the artificial heart, he has never practiced medicine.

So, Jarvik's now poster boy for a probe of DTC advertising. He "appears to be giving medical advice," but he's not qualified to do so, says Rep. John Dingell, chairman of a House subcommittee. But Pfizer maintains that Jarvik is well aware that patients need to take steps to protect their hearts--namely from high cholesterol, we assume--so they never need the kind of replacement he pioneered. What, we wonder, would Dingell have made of Marcus Welby, M.D.'s, pitch for Geritol?

- see the release from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
- read the report from the International Herald Tribune

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