John Dingell (D-MI), chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is taking aim at Robert Jarvik for his role as Lipitor spokesman.
Evidently, the issue is that since Jarvik only graduated medical school, but has not actually practiced medicine, so he is unqualified to dispense medical advice. Dingell only seems to be going after Jarvik and has not challenged other celebrities (i.e., Tom Cruise) on their legitimacy to dispense medical advice.
The Wall Street Journal Health Blog notes that Robert Bazell, the NBC science correspondent, first pointed out the perceived inadequacies of Jarvik’s academic pedigree. Bazell has reportedly noted that Jarvik is not a physician (neither is Bazell). Bazell has also reportedly noted that Jarvik went to study in Italy (Bazell went to study in England). The good news is that for between $10,001 and $20,000, you can get Robert Bazell to lend his name to your company's initiative (surely Pfizer is paying a lot more for Jarvik). Pfizer could save a truckload of money if they switched from Jarvik to Bazell (NBC might even give discounted air time since Bazell is an NBC personality).
It is unclear how John Dingell, who never graduated from medical school, possesses the strong clinical background to evaluate the subtleties of treating hyperlipidemia. Dingell should stick to what he knows best – big, gas-guzzling automobiles. The Big 3 Detroit Auto Makers give him (and his wife) millions in campaign contributions and other compensation to ensure that real, substantive environmental legislation doesn’t get passed in Congress (although Dingell does a magnificent job throwing table scraps at the environmental lobby to pacify them).
Personally, I find the Jarvik Lipitor ads to be a little annoying. But I’d take medical advice from Jarvik before I’d accept advice from John Dingell (or Tom Cruise).