Hollywood's Part-Time Job: Drug-Dealing

Maressa Brown

I remember the first time I saw a commercial for that bizarre "eyelash growth treatment," Latisse. There was Brooke Shields on TV, batting her gorgeous peepers and gushing about a "treatment" that, she later warns, may darken of the skin around the eyes; cause brown pigmentation of the colored part of the eye (which may be permanent) or you know, a more benign side effect is just red, itchy eyes, etc.

I get it -- I'm supposed to trust her because she's that pretty actress who used to be married to the tennis player, and hey, she's sung the praises of Calvin Klein jeans and Colgate before. Well, I don't know about you, but Brooke or no Brooke, I think I'll use a drugstore brand mascara over a drug anyday.

Now, it's annoying enough that you can't go anywhere without learning what celebs are doing to stay slim or younger-looking. But it's on another level of evil when you can't avoid seeing or hearing stars peddling for Big Pharma. Did you know there is an entire agency that serves as a matchmaker between stars and drug companies for direct-to-consumer advertising? 

What's more, celebs are often paid anywhere from $20,000 to $2 million to discuss their particular experiences with a drug on TV talk shows. This is a huge boon for drug companies, because the airtime is essentially free and the celeb doesn't have to disclose any real science, side effects or contraindications, according to an article in the online journal PLoS Medicine.

Is it just me, or does all of this seem unsettling and potentially unethical? 

Here, a few eerie illustrated examples of celebs' part-time work with the drug industry ... 

Sally Field. The former Flying Nun is now the spokesperson for a bone health drug called Boniva. But according to an article in the Consumer Reports blog, this drug can cost up to ten times more than a similar drug, Fosamax and its generic version, alendronate, yet is shown to be no more effective in the treatment of osteoporosis. Of course, people like Sally. They really like her. So scripts for Boniva beat those for the other drugs, likely in part to Forrest's mama lending her likeness to the campaign. This just makes me want to say, "Stupid is as stupid does." 

Lisa Rinna. The Melrose Place and Dancing with the Stars alumna has no problem letting  cameras follow her personal life. (If you get TV Land, you can watch her latest "docu-soap," Harry Loves Lisa!) So I guess I wasn't surprised when I saw that she was also sharing the intimate details of her previously MIA libido at a health press event this summer. Although Lisa claimed that she was able to treat her flagging libido by taking a sexy dance class and not a pill, she was seemingly hired to create a case for Boehringer Ingelheim's "pink Viagra" ... which now, thankfully, looks like it won't see the light of day

Dorothy Hamill. Several years back, the famous figure skater promoted Vioxx, a popular prescription painkiller. Sales rocketed, due in part to her friendly celebrity endorsement. But then the drug was pulled from the market after clinical trials proved that the drug increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. No one gets a gold medal for that.

Do you mind seeing celebrities peddling Rx drugs?


Image via MORE Magazine

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