Shirley S. Wang weaves a cautionary tale of how product endorsements can go awry by looking at Bristol-Myers Squibb's relationship with Andy Behrman, a 42-year-old bipolar patient and book author who
touted the drug Abilify for several years to the tune of $400,000. But when Behrman's contract ran out, he began talking about side effects such as dazed spells that he says caused him to stop taking
the drug even while he was promoting it.
Patient testimonials have become an important part of the nearly $60 billion a year that drug makers spend annually marketing their products --
twice what they spend on research and development, Wang reports. Bristol-Myers Squibb, which has worked with hundreds of patients in its promotional efforts, says this has been the only collaboration
that has not been positive.
There are charges, counter-charges and denials about who said what to whom and the terms Behrman requested in negotiations for a new contract. What is not
disputed is that between June 2004 and December 2005, he spoke at six Bristol-Myers internal events, saying that he had switched to Abilify from other meds and had not experienced any side effects.
Now, he says, that wasn't true.
Abilify, Bristol-Myers's second-largest-selling drug, generated sales of $2.15 billion last year.
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