The golf world was stunned by Tiger Woods’ recent poor performance. Another bit of “stunning” news hit the golf world yesterday when the #2 ranked duffer Phil Mickelson announced that he suffers from Psoriatic Arthritis and is being treated with Enbrel. See “Phil Mickelson Arthritis: Will Play At PGA Whistling Straights“.

The New York Times also ran a story: “Immune Disorder Could Be an Enduring Test for Mickelson“.

Both these articles mentioned that he was being treated with Enbrel, a drug jointly marketed by AMGEN & PFIZER. The first article I cited includes the subtitle “PGA Championship 2010, Whistling Straits: Phil Mickelson Has Psoriatic Arthritis – Uses Enbrel To Help Manage Condition” and includes 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.”

Quite an “unsolicited” celebrity endorsement! Amgen/Pfizer could never quote what Phil said on its Enbrel website as in the following completely fabricated (by me) screen shot:

By the way, although you probably cannot see it in Phil’s press conference image shown above, his eyes are completely BLOODSHOT, which indicates to me that he is taking something other than Enbrel to ease the pain (see larger image here).

The New York Times helped Enbrel’s cause by supplying the following dire statistics about this medical condition: “As many as 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, and about 30 percent of those with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. While psoriasis often appears between the ages of 15 and 25, the arthritis symptoms usually appear later, often between 30 and 50. When it does, there is no rhyme or reason as to which joints will hurt at any given time.”

I am willing to bet that this bit of information came straight from AMGEN/PFIZER’s PR people.

It probably did NOT come from the “nonprofit Psoriasis Cure Now” group, which issued a press release entitled “Phil Mickelson’s Arthritis Shocks Golf World, Psoriasis Cure Now Says a Reminder That Psoriatic Arthritis Is a Serious Disease.” That group, which includes Amgen and Pfizer as sponsors, claimed ONLY 1 million people (less than half the number cited in the NYT article) in the US have psoriatic arthritis. “… cases range from mild to what Phil Mickelson described this week. Fortunately, the man on the edge of being ranked the world’s number one golfer is taking Enbrel, a biologic treatment that has transformed the lives of many people with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system diseases.”

My question is this: Is Phil Mickelson being paid as a spokesperson by Amgen or Pfizer either directly or through Psoriasis Cure Now?

I have surveyed readers about the “Use of Patient Testimonials in DTC & Social Media Advertising” (see survey here) and have also written about it in Pharma Marketing News (see “Real Patient Testimonials: An Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy“; use code ‘SMOD239’ to download it FREE).

P.S. Does Phil have a Twitter account? Will he do branded tweets like racecar driver Charlie Kimball has done for Levemir? (see “Novo Nordisk’s Branded (Levemir) Tweet is Sleazy Twitter Spam!”).

P.P.S. Before you go off on a rant, let  me just say that I admire Phil Mickelson — unless, of course, he is having an extramarital affair we do not know about! I also like Charlie Kimball and Sally Field and each and every pharma celebrity product endorser!