Back in August 2010, I asked “Is Phil Mickelson Shilling for Enbrel?” (see this post). My question was prompted by a couple of “news” stories, one of which proclaimed “PGA Championship 2010, Whistling Straits: Phil Mickelson Has Psoriatic Arthritis – Uses Enbrel To Help Manage Condition.”

The story also included this quote from Phil: “I have no aches and pains. My back feels great. I feel stronger and more flexible than I’ve ever been.”

That’s quite a claim! If Phil made such a claim while being a paid spokesperson for ENBREL, he would have probably violated FDA regulations regarding unsubstantiated claims. He also would have violated FTC regulations regarding celebrity endorsements and testimonials by not disclosing “material connections” (payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect.

Well, Phil IS a shill for ENBREL after all! I missed this November 2010 AMGEN/PFIZER press release that made the announcement. In case that press release is no longer available, here’s what it said:

Amgen Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and world-class professional golfer Phil Mickelson, have entered into a partnership to share Phil’s experience with his diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and treatment with Enbrel(R) (etanercept), and to encourage patients with similar symptoms to visit their doctor for proper assessment and care.

“This partnership with Amgen and Pfizer is important because being a psoriatic arthritis patient has motivated me to share my story,” said Phil Mickelson. “I hope to encourage other patients to work with their doctors, learn about their condition and take action so that they have an opportunity to get back to some of the things that matter most to them.”

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis caused by an overactive immune system that can affect not only the body’s joints but also the skin. Approximately 600,000 Americans may have psoriatic arthritis. The main joint symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are pain, stiffness and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis patients experience similar symptoms, however there are important differences between the two conditions, making it important to see a doctor.

Amgen and Pfizer were inspired by Mickelson’s approach to managing his condition and by his continued drive to maintain his health. Those same qualities have kept him on top of the competitive world of golf and this is why the companies are excited to be partnering with him. Amgen and Pfizer believe his perseverance in the face of adversity will encourage patients to also work with their doctors to manage their condition and help them get back on course.

Further details and timing of future partnership initiatives will be announced in 2011.

I can’t wait for these “further details” to learn more.

One thing I did learn from an insider is this: Amgen cannot afford to sponsor “a cheap and effective Web and cell phone-based patient adherence solution” because it has blown its entire marketing budget on the Phil Mickelson campaign.

It’s worth more to AMGEN — maybe PFIZER too — to get the ENBREL brand associated with a celebrity and a golf tournament than it is to support patients who are already taking the drug. Considering that the demographic that is attracted to Phil — mostly older, more affluent men — it’s also a slap in the face to more typical psoriasis sufferers who probably can’t afford ENBREL in the first place!