Prosecutors Allege Dr. Drew Was Paid to Talk Up Wellbutrin

Today, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay a $3 billion fine in a fraud settlement for illegally marketing drugs and withholding safety information. But Celebrity Rehab fans may be more interested in another aspect of the case against the company — the claim that TV personality Dr. Drew was paid $275,000 to promote the antidepressant Wellbutrin SR for uses not approved by the FDA.

According to federal prosecutors, in April and March of 2009 Dr. Drew promoted Wellbutrin without revealing that he was a paid spokesperson. A huge chunk of Glaxo's $3 billion fine — $727 million, to be exact — is specifically related to the improper marketing of Wellbutrin and Paxil.

At the time he was being paid, Dr. Drew was on Loveline, the perfect venue to discuss Wellbutrin's sexual side effects — or the lack thereof. The antidepressant is often prescribed for patients who find that other SSRIs decrease their sex drive. (CORRECTION: Wellbutrin is not an SSRI.) In fact, "increased libido" and "decreased libido" are both listed as side effects, but Dr. Drew focused on the former.

The Loveline segment began with a call from a woman who claimed to have had 60 orgasms in a row. Dr. Drew seemed to attribute her unbelievable pleasurefest to Wellbutrin, or bupropion.

What I think she was amazed about was it just suddenly started and that kind of thing most typically happens from medication, frankly.

But multiple orgasms aside, Dr. Drew explained that Wellbutrin is different from SSRIs in that it doesn't usually cause negative sexual side effects.

[Bupropion] actually is the one we advocate, one of the things we suggest people do if they're getting a decrease in their libido or decrease in their arousal which typically occurs in the serotonin re-uptake inhibitor medication.

He then proceeded to communicate Glaxo's "key campaign messages," all without disclosing that he'd been paid to do so.

Wellbutrin is still prescribed for depression, but not for turning users into superhuman orgasm machines.

[Image via AP]