Glaxo Paid Dr. Drew $275k to Promote Wellbutrin


Part of the case against GlaxoSmithKline settled yesterday involved the company’s use of paid experts to promote non-FDA approved uses of its drugs. One expert, Dr. Drew Pinsky, was paid $275,000 over two months in 1999 to deliver messages about Wellbutrin “in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK.”

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Department of Justice Documents


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Looks bad for Dr. Drew

    “The document states that Pinksy allegedly received two payments in March 2009 and April 2009 from GlaxoSmithKline totaling $275,000 to promote Wellbutrin SR. The Wall Street Journal reported in June 1999, he made statements on “Loveline,” a television and radio show he co-hosted, saying that he prescribed Wellbutrin to depressed patients because it “may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal” as much as other antidepressants are known to do. Pinsky was also reported to have made comments on other media, including another national radio program called “David Essel – Alive!,” Forbes added. In both instances, he did not disclose that he was paid by the company to do so, and he promote uses of Wellbutrin that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.”

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    “Glaxo indirectly paid Pinsky, also known as Dr. Drew, $275,000 in two payments in 1999 when he was hosting Loveline on radio and on MTV, US prosecutors charge. (The MTV show is no longer on the air.) Justice Department prosecutors say that Glaxo was promoting depression drug Wellbutrin for weight loss, sexual dysfunction, drug addiction, and attention deficit hyperactivity even though it wasn’t approved for those uses.

    In June 1999, Pinsky went on a national radio program and pumped Wellbutrin for its libido-enhancing effects, the US charges. [PDF page 22] Pinsky said “switching to or adding Wellbutrin is recommended for people experiencing a loss of libido,” the feds say.

    What’s more, Pinsky said on the show that the active drug in Wellbutrin “could explain a woman suddenly having 60 orgasms in one night,” according to the US complaint.”

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