Should patients be paid to promote drugs?

The story of Andy Behrman made the news a few weeks ago, most notably in The Wall Street Journal.

Apparently, he was a bipolar “celebrity patient,” and was paid $400,000 by Bristol-Myers Squibb for promoting their drug, Abilify.

Things quickly went sour, as Mr. Behrman was afflicted with the drug’s side effects, which included “dazed spells and agitation in his legs.”

Merrill Goozner comments on the case, casting the light on patient advocates, some of whom are funded by drug companies. There’s no question that pharmaceutical advertising can be especially resonant when coming from patient testimonials.

To that end, he writes, “Aren’t patient-shills standing before groups of physicians while offering talking points written by a public relations firm engaged in an activity that should be regulated, just as direct-to-consumer advertising is regulated?”



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