10 Celebrities on Big Pharma's Payroll

Last Updated Feb 1, 2011 1:07 PM EST

Has your woman and/or your man done you wrong, leaving you short of breath? Then you could be in the mood to write a winning country song for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as judged by Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless and Boehringer Ingelheim (which markets COPD drugs). The winner of BI's contest will perform their song live at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville in June. It's a tough challenge -- the standard was set by Loveless herself last year with her song "Drive."

Contestants can upload their songs at tuneup4copd.cmaworld.com. If you think the matchup of the maker of Spiriva, Combivent, Atrovent and others with country's finest is unusual, you're wrong. The drug business has a long history of getting into bed with celebrities. Here are 10 stars who have been on Big Pharma's payroll:

  1. The Jonas Brothers and The Veronicas, sponsored by Bayer (BAYRY)
    In summer 2008, The Jonas Brothers and the Veronicas toured together, and both bands were sponsored by Bayer. The Veronicas' song "Goodbye to You" was popularized largely as the jingle for Bayer's Yaz contraceptive and Nick Jonas -- who has type 1 diabetes -- has an ongoing relationship with Bayer's diabetes care unit.
  2. Claire Danes, sponsored by Allergan (AGN)
    The actress Claire Danes, who touts the eyelash lengthening drug Latisse, is just the latest in a small army of celebrities who have been employed by Allergan. Brooke Shields touted Latisse before Danes, and Sideways star Virginia Madsen has promoted Botox.
  3. Susan Lucci, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim
    BI, like Allergan, is an old hand at wrangling famous people. Lucci was corralled for an atrial fibrillation awareness campaign (BI sells Pradaxa, an anticoagulant). The company has previously worked with Jim Belushi, driver Danica Patrick and football star Michael Strahan.
  4. Michael Welch of Twilight, sponsored by Allergan
    Welch -- better known as Michael Newton in the Twilight vampire movie saga -- starred in "Aczone the Musical" to promote Allergan's anti-acne medication.
  5. Jon Lovitz, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
    The comedian -- who has the skin condition psoriasis -- made a video that is the center of a website for Remicade. That drug is marketed by for J&J's Centocor unit.
  6. Phil Mickelson, sponsored by Amgen The golfer announced in 2009 that he has psoriatic arthritis and in 2010 became a spokesman for Enbrel, Amgen's drug for that condition.
  7. Antonio Banderas, sponsored by Merck (MRK)
    In one of the most improbable celebrity hookups, Merck's Schering-Plough unit persuaded Banderas to become the voice of Nasonex bee, who persuades viewers to use the anti-allergy drug.
  8. Ed "Too Tall" Jones, sponsored by Novartis (NVS)
    Jones is best-known as the defensive lineman who won Super Bowl XII with the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he's received $62,200 to give speeches for Novartis, along with a host of other athletes.
  9. Mia Hamm, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
    Hamm won a World Cup when she played for the U.S. women's soccer team. Now she urges adults to keep their inoculations up to date for whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, influenza, human papillomavirus, pneumonia, meningitis and shingles. GSK makes vaccinations for all those conditions.
  10. Janine Turner, sponsored by Allergan
    Turner -- still best known for her spell on TV's Northern Exposure -- launched the dry-eye treatment Restasis but was later replaced by a non-celebrity because consumers wanted "someone they could relate to" in the ads, according to a company spokeswoman.
Related: Images: All either from Wikimedia, CC, or stars'/companies' own publicity stills.