The latest update about Paula Deen’s collapsed empire is a video from a New York Times interview, in which Deen openly discusses racism, referring to her family’s devastation about the end of the Civil War. According to Deen, her grandfather was extremely depressed about having “no one to operate his plantation.” And by “no one,” she means slaves. The worst part of the video; however, revolves around a man named Hollis Johnson, who works for Deen. Deen calls him to the stage and seemingly feels she deserves a medal for having a black friend whom she treats as an equal. Watch below.
Watch her bloated mess of an apology below.
Another day, another celebrity apology. In response to the insane amount of criticism over the United States’ Olympic uniforms not actually being made in the United States, Ralph Lauren issued an official statement, saying:
“For more than 45 years Ralph Lauren has built a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country. We are honored to continue our longstanding relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in the 2014 Olympic Games by serving as an Official Outfitter of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams. Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States and has committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”
Translation? We like to keep our price point low to make a larger profit, but because we got in trouble we’ll make an exception . . . this time around.
Early this month, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline pled guilty and agreed to pay a record $3 billion settlement for fraudulently promoting unapproved uses of the depression drugs Wellbutrin and Paxil, as well as the diabetes drug Avandia.
One of the claims against Glaxo is that it used a “network of paid experts, speaking to doctors and to the press,” to tout certain uses, or benefits, of the drugs which were never approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
And Dr. Drew (Pinsky) – a board-certified internist who is firmly embedded brand includes best-selling books and three shows — was one of the hired hands peddling an unapproved use for Wellbutrin. Although he was not charged in the Glaxo case, the Justice Department’s complaint alleged that Dr. Drew received $275,000 from the company in 1999 to promote Wellbutrin for its ability to sexually enhance (or “at least not suppress”) the patient.
In the 1990s, Wellbutrin was being shadily promoted as a drug that would not only treat depression but also enhance a patient’s sex life and lead to weight loss; Glaxo’s sales reps occasionally referred to it as the “happy, horny, skinny pill,” according to the Justice Department. As part of his deal with Glaxo (which sells somewhere around $44 billion worth of drugs annually), Drew took time on ‘Loveline’ to explain that he prescribed Wellbutrin to patients suffering from depression because it might “enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal” like other antidepressants. Dr. Drew then went on a national radio program, ‘David Essel Alive!,’ with a 34-year-old woman who claimed that she had 60 orgasms in a single night. Essel asked Drew, “What type of a medication would increase someone’s orgasmic potential, where they go from three or four to 60?” Dr. Drew’s response: Lots of antidepressants might do the trick, but he advocates Wellbutrin because it “may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal” as much as other drugs. A memo from Glaxo’s PR agency indicated that Dr. Drew effectively “communicated key campaign messages” on the Essel show, including that Wellbutrin “is recommended for people experiencing a loss of libido.”
Problem # 1:
In both instances, Dr. Drew endorsed Wellbutrin but failed to disclose that he was paid by the company to do so.
Problem # 2:
The FDA approved Wellbutrin for treating depression, not as a sexual enhancement. In fact, Glaxo never even received FDA approval for advertising Wellbutrin as having fewer sexual side effects than other antidepressants. Therefore, Dr. Drew was at least suggesting, if not squarely promoting, the drug for an unapproved, off-label use. And putting the name Wellbutrin next Ms. 60-in-one-night is a pretty strong endorsement, right?
Dr. Drew told CBS News that everything he said about Wellbutrin back in 1999 was both lawful and accurate based on his medical experience. However, Drew did not reveal whether he has any current financial deals with drug companies or advocacy groups. According to Glaxo and HLN, the channel that airs the “Dr. Drew” program, he recently made a deal to promote Nicorette, which is used by patients trying to quit smoking.
Many health-care reform advocates have long stressed the necessity of disclosure and transparency. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) includes a provision requiring pharmaceutical companies to disclose their payments to physicians. And the nonprofit organization ProPublica has collected such disclosures from various drug companies; its database reflects more than $760 million in payments for services such as consulting, speaking, and research.
“You deserve to know who [doctors are] working for,” says John Santa, head of the Consumer Reports Health Rating Center. “You think they’re working for you. But they might not tell you all the side effects… [and] [t]hey might not tell you the benefits of other drugs.” Many viewers rely on Dr. Drew as a competent, legitimate medical authority (and Andy Dick goes so far as to use him as a primary care physician). As such, maybe Dr. Drew should let us know about his pharmaceutical endorsement deals at or near the time he is recommending a particular product.
“My recent comments in The New York Times were about me and my personal story of being gay. I believe we all have different ways we came to the gay community and we can’t and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering. However, to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify:”
“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.”
“As I said in the Times and will say again here, I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.”
“Our community is not a monolith, thank goodness, any more than America itself is. I look forward to and will continue to work toward the day when America recognizes all of us as full and equal citizens.”
I actually think that forcing the gay community to label their sexuality does even more damage. We don’t all fit into pre-defined buckets, and Cynthia Nixon should not have to define her sexual preference.