In June 1999, popular radio personality Dr. Drew Pinsky used the airwaves to extol the virtues of GlaxoSmithKline GSK.LN +0.64% PLC’s antidepressant Wellbutrin, telling listeners he prescribes it and other medications to depressed patients because it “may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal” as much as other antidepressants do.
But one thing listeners didn’t know was that, two months before the program aired, Dr. Pinsky—who gained fame as “Dr. Drew” during years co-hosting a popular radio sex-advice show “Loveline”—received the second of two payments from Glaxo totaling $275,000 for “services for Wellbutrin.”
The payments, made by a communications firm working for Glaxo, are revealed in an attachment to a complaint the U.S. government filed in October 2011 in federal court in the District of Massachusetts. The documents were disclosed this week as the U.S. Justice Department announced a $3 billion criminal and civil settlement with Glaxo over illegal drug marketing and other matters.