Celebrity sellingBMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7349.1342 (Published 01 June 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1342
- Ray Moynihan, Australian Financial Review (firstname.lastname@example.org)
By spreading the word about osteoporosis, Camilla Parker Bowles, companion to Prince Charles, is inadvertently raising awareness about the latest trend in global drug promotion
Working round the clock from her home office in New Jersey, Amy Doner Schachtel is at the cutting edge of medical research—she helps drug companies find celebrities to help expand markets for new medicines.
Chatting on the phone one night last week, Ms Doner Schachtel explained how she worked with big pharmaceutical companies to locate high profile personalities to talk about low profile diseases. The research she does for the companies and their public relations firms was not promoting drugs, she stressed, but raising awareness. “The trend is growing dramatically,” she said.
Thanks to this experienced public relations agent and her company, Premier Entertainment, the American public learnt about irritable bowel syndrome from the star of the sitcom Frasier, Kelsey Grammer, and his wife, who has the condition. They appeared publicly on behalf of a foundation for gut disorders. The celebrity awareness-raising campaign was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, makers of the irritable bowel syndrome drug Lotronex (alosetron hydrochloride). Around the same time, that drug was withdrawn from the market after reports of serious side …