Intended for healthcare professionals

Marketing By admitting he is shy, an American football player has become the latest star to promote disease—and drug—awareness

Celebrity selling—part two

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 03 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:286
  1. Ray Moynihan (
  1. Washington DC based writer for the Australian Financial Review

    United States professional football sensation Ricky Williams last week sparked a blaze of publicity when he revealed that he had social anxiety disorder and was benefiting from both therapy and Paxil (Seroxat/paroxetine), the drug that earned GlaxoSmithKline global sales last year of US$2.7bn (£1.7bn; €2.7bn).

    Items appeared on the front page of the New York Times sports section, in the prestigious Los Angeles Times, and a host of other papers, as well as broadcast media including NBC. Stories described a serious psychiatric condition affecting between 5 and 10 million Americans. Some reports revealed that GlaxoSmithKline was paying the sports celebrity, some didn't.

    Williams joins a stellar cast of characters now using the mass media to promote awareness of a whole suite of medical conditions and diseases. In May Camilla Parker Bowles spoke out about osteoporosis at an international meeting in Portugal (BMJ 2002;324:1342). While Mrs Parker Bowles received …

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