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Common Purposes

What are the Common Purposes? I've dwelt on that question since first reading my alma mater's founding principle "for the purposes of instructing persons, who may choose to apply themselves, in the application of science to the common purposes of life". The question, more than any answer I may ever offer, has guided me through many personal and professional endeavors. And, if I have learned anything it is that I have derived my greatest joy when I, as part of a team, have made a lasting difference to improve the lives of others. Should the thoughts I share here and the ensuing discussion lead others to ask the same question, to seek their own answers and to experience the same joy as I, then I shall consider this effort of value.

Image: "The New Shoes" by Jane Bucci. This work is based on the touching photo snapped by Gerald Waller in 1946, in Austria. The little boy, who lived in an orphanage, had just been given new shoes by the American Red Cross.

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Pfizer's Infarction

Posted February 26, 2008 1:16 PM by MillMatt

Pfizer, Inc. has announced the termination of its Lipitor advertising campaign featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik. Lipitor is a cholesterol reducing drug and Dr. Jarvik is credited as the inventor of the artificial heart. The company has bowed to pressure from a U.S. Congressional investigation of celebrity endorsements for prescription medicine. Of concern was the possible misrepresentation that Dr. Jarvik was offering medical advice though he is not a practicing physician.

I never thought of Jarvik's sales pitch as medical advice and wonder what other factors went into Pfizer's decision. From my perspective, the company was using a popular promotional style (akin to GEICO) where someone of public prominence provides a memorable sales pitch. In this particular instance, not only is Jarvik someone who has devoted his life to medical research but, as we find out in the commercial, he is someone who chose to devote his life to such work because of his father's premature death from a heart ailment. And, now, as he is aging and has adult children of his own, he is doing what he can do, on a very personal level, to ensure his own health. If Pfizer wants to incorporate that story into its promotional campaign, that's fine with me. What more effective way is there to communicate such matters of importance to the general public?

In a similar vein (pun intended), Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals has made an utter travesty of pharmaceutical advertising with their Mirapex campaign. Mirapex is intended to control Wittmaack-Ekbom's syndrome and they have certainly done an extraordinary job of raising public awareness and hypochondriacal fears about Restless Leg Syndrome! Of significance, Boehringer Ingelheim has curiously raised the "important safety information" shared in pharmaceutical advertising to new heights of absurdity. Who knew that a drug might cause "increased gambling, sexual, or other overpowering urges"?

Exactly HOW did they arrive at this conclusion? Is there a public report of this topic? Or is this commercial exploitation at it's most ridiculous? And, as the pharmaceutical industry bows to consumerism, politics and global competition, does the industry damage its credibility with those in most need, their patients?

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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1753
Good Answers: 59
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Re: Pfizer's Infarction

02/28/2008 11:27 PM

I achieved a perfect cognitive split, known otherwise as schizophrenia on that subject. On the one hand my biochemistry background tells me that the level of cholesterol does not matter much, but the composition, where medication is not effective. On the other hand hearing two congressional critters calling a medical researcher unfit to advertise is like a court jester calling an alchemist unfit to do his magic. Have I gone mad, and descended into one of Dante's special hell?

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