Allen also sent a link to a Web site about Pinsky’s involvement with an intimacy and depression awareness campaign of the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy that was supported by by Glaxo Wellcome.
Pinsky’s representative did not respond to a question about whether Pinsky currently has financial deals with drug companies or advocacy groups. But a source at HLN, the channel that airs Pinsky’s “Dr. Drew” program, said he recently had a deal to promote the use of Nicorette, which is distributed by GlaxoSmithKline, for patients who are trying to quit smoking and with Janssen Pharmaceuticals to do public service announcements warning about the dangers of abusing prescription medicines. Neither of those deals is currently in place, although some of the public service announcements continue to air, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person is not authorized to publicly about private business dealings. Pinsky also has a promotional deal with Nivea hand cream, the source said.
A Janssen representative could not be reached for comment. A GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman confirmed that Pinsky was paid to promote the launch of the over-the-counter Nicorette Mini Lozenge smoking-cessation program from April 2010 to January and that his relationship with the manufacturer was disclosed in campaign materials and interviews.
Pinsky also received more than $74,000 from drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, according to a database compiled by ProPublica.
“HLN reviews Dr. Drew’s outside business relationships and requires any relevant disclosures be made to our viewers,” an HLN representative said in an e-mail. Spokesmen for Courtside Entertainment Group, which produces Pinsky’s “Loveline” radio program, and Warner Bros., which produces Pinsky’s “Lifechangers” TV program, did not respond to written questions.
Disclosure is essential in the opinion of many national health-care reform advocates. The Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — includes a provision that requires pharmaceutical companies to disclose their payments to physicians.
“You deserve to know who [doctors are] working for,” said 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, all the risks. They might not tell you the benefits of other drugs.”
The importance of disclosure extends beyond the examining room and into the television studio, said Marcia Angell, a Harvard Medical School lecturer who was the first woman to serve as editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, she said, the failure of a television doctor to disclose his financial ties might be even more troublesome than the failure of a local doctor.
“If anything,” she said, “that would be worse, because they influence more people.”
Brian Vastag contributed to this report.