Dr. Phil Is Not A Medical Doctor. But He Is Now A Paid Spokesperson For A Diabetes Drug.
Ben Rose/WireImage TV personality Phil McGraw — best known as "Dr. Phil" — will be making the media rounds soon talking about his experiences living with Type 2 diabetes for more than 25 years. But be aware: This isn't an objective and noble effort to raise awareness or destigmatize a condition that millions of Americans face. Instead, Dr. Phil has been hired by the drugmaker AstraZeneca as a paid spokesperson — and this presents all sorts of thorny conflict-of-interest problems. "These campaigns create a blurriness between marketing and public health messages," says Dartmouth physician-researcher Steven Woloshin. "People tend to view them with less skepticism, particularly when there is a trusted celebrity spokesperson." The Dr. Phil case is an example of a common Big Pharma tactic known as "disease awareness." "The idea is that a spokesperson, often beloved celebrities like Kelsey Grammer or Paula Deen, helps shed light on a particular disease. In turn, they build the base of patients who take a drug company's medications. These campaigns usually involve some subtle hawking of a company's pharmaceuticals, often at a time when there's a push within the company to ramp up sal Continue reading >>