Paula Deen's Dicey Dance as a Diabetes Drug Spokesperson
Most people understand that TV chef Paula Deen's brand of cuisine is to healthful eating as channel-surfing is to exercise. There's nothing wrong with her high-fat, high-sugar recipes, as long as you follow the rule, "Everything in moderation."
But when Deen chose to keep her diabetes secret from her public for three years, then burst onto the Big Pharma promotional scene with the announcement not only of her disease, but her new status as a pitchwoman for the diabetes drug Victoza, the flag of hypocrisy is raised.
In a commentary published in the Los Angeles Times, writer Karen Stabiner outlines the dangers of Deen’s consumer seduction. “… [T]he media storm surrounding the news of her illness is exactly the sort of publicity bonanza the pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk must have dreamed of when it hired Deen … for its new marketing campaign. It's Deen's job, along with her sons, to help us see ‘Diabetes in a new light,’ according to the company's website. …’Live a life that's delicious.’
It sounds like so much fun; almost makes you want to sign up for Type 2 diabetes. Surely Deen fans with the disease will start asking their doctors if the $500-a-month Novo Nordisk drug she takes might be right for them, not because they need a new medication but because it will catapult them to one degree of separation from Deen — which is, after all, what celebrity endorsements are all about.”
The Food and Drug Administration has rules about celebrities flogging prescription drugs. The commercial has to put the financial connection into the fine print of the ad, and the commercial also has to fairly state all the downsides of the drug. But try to keep track of what's said as this information rushes by at the end of the commercial.
Novo Nordisk, the maker of Victoza, has a new Paula Deen website that shows what the required information will include once it trots out Deen in actual ads.
Among other things, the website tells us: "Victoza® is not recommended as first-line therapy for patients who have inadequate glycemic [blood sugar] control on diet and exercise." It also says: "Victoza® is not a substitute for insulin. ... The concurrent use of Victoza® and insulin has not been studied."Continued on the next page