Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Bad! Paula Dean Shills for Novo Nordisk, Not Novartis

[Alternative title for this post: "Paula Deen and Diabetes Prevention: A Recipe for Disaster!"]

Last week I reported on a story that celebrity southern-style chef Paula Deen has type 2 diabetes and that she is a spokesperson for Novartis's diabetes franchise (see "Sanofi vs Novartis: Paul Sorvino vs. Paula Deen").

It turns out that the source of this information confused Novartis with Novo Nordisk, another pharmaceutical company famous for using celebs to shill for its diabetes treatments (see, for example, "Novo Nordisk's Branded (Levemir) Tweet is Sleazy Twitter Spam!").

"The rumors that Novartis has signed a multi-million dollar spokesperson deal with Paula Deen for a diabetes treatment are not true," a Novartis rep told CBSNews.com. "Novartis is not working with Ms. Deen."

It's official! Deen is now shilling for Novo Nordisk (see "Paula Deen Now Novo Nordisk Diabetes Paid Spokesperson" and Novo's press release). Yes, she's being paid for her new role with the drugmaker, Deen says. "Talking about money is garish. It's tacky. But, of course, I'm been compensated for my time. That's the way our world works."

Ha! Ha! Talking about money is "garish"! That's rich! Only people with lots of money can say that! Senator Grassley should investigate the money that pharmaceutical companies pay celebrities such as Paula Deen and push to have these payments made public just like pharma payments to physicians must be made public.

Deen uses Novo Nordisk's Victoza, a once-daily, non-insulin injection that may improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes when used along with diet and exercise. [my emphasis]

It appears that Deen will NOT change her lifestyle -- ie, eating habits -- much to encourage PREVENTION of type 2 diabetes.
"Type 2 diabetes is like 'Russian roulette' when it comes to whom it's going to strike, Deen says. 'It's about heredity. It's about age, lifestyle, race. I'm the only one in my family who has it. My grandmother cooked and ate like I ate, and she didn't have it.'

"Deen says she's not going to change the focus of her cooking shows because of diabetes. 'I suspect I'll stick to my roots but will say a little louder, Eat this in moderation.'"
Eat this Paula Deen donut-bacon-hamburger sandwich in "moderation:"

Novo Nordisk appears to be abandoning life style changes it has supported in the past or maybe it's just exhibiting a form of PR-Marketing schizophrenia.

Just this past November on World Diabetes Day, for example, the company issued a press release in which it announced that it was a partner in the World Diabetes Day campaign and that it "has planned or co-sponsored a variety of activities throughout the world...[all of which] are focused on increasing awareness and improving knowledge of diabetes and its prevention" (see "Dramatic increase in diabetes prevalence calls for action").

The two activities just do not fit together! The first (sponsoring World Diabetes Day) is a matter of public relations and the second (Paula Deen) is marketing's turf -- never the twain shall meet.

Novo and Paula have launched a new Website whose very name hints at the new emphasis: "Diabetes in a new light!™" (www.diabetesinanewlight.com/). Apparently, Novo Nordisk is more interested in helping people live with type 2 diabetes by treating it than it is in helping 26 million Americans prevent it.

IMHO, this shows that pharmaceutical companies are not very trustworthy when it comes to their public stance on disease prevention.

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