Dr. Robert Jarvik is best known for the artificial heart he pioneered more than a quarter-century ago. Since then he had toiled in relative obscurity Ã¢â‚¬â€ until he began appearing in television ads two years ago for the Pfizer cholesterol drug Lipitor.
The ads have depicted him, among other outdoorsy pursuits, rowing a one-man racing shell swiftly across a mountain lake. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When diet and exercise arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enough, adding Lipitor significantly lowers cholesterol,Ã¢â‚¬Â Dr. Jarvik says in the ad.
Celebrity advertising endorsements are nothing new, of course. But the Lipitor campaign is a rare instance of a well-known doctorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s endorsing a drug in advertising Ã¢â‚¬â€ and it has helped rekindle a smoldering debate over whether it is appropriate to aim ads for prescription drugs directly at consumers.