First it was Burson-Marsteller. Then it was DCI Group. The latest PR firm facing heat by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is Porter Novelli. In her show last night, Maddow dug into the director of PN’s global healthcare practice, Peter Pitts. Pitts also president of The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), an interest group involved in the health-care debate that is primarily funded by large pharma companies such as Pfizer.
From the transcript:
The Center for the American Progress today documents how CMPI has been a big player in the anti-health reform movement over the past few months. They sponsored anti-Obama tea party protests…They produced a number of anti-health reform online ads and video and even anti-health reform video games
Who runs CMPI, the Center for Medicine and the Public Interest, this group? Well, its president is a man named Peter Pitts. In addition to heading up this ostensibly nonpartisan medical think tank… Mr. Pitts is also the director for Global Health Care at the giant PR firm, Porter Novelli.
Porter Novelli, of course, has a bit of a history when it comes to shilling for the health care industry, having helped that industry kill the Patients Bill of Rights way back in 1994. They said at the time that it was part of a, quote, “big government agenda.” Why does that sound so familiar?
PRWeek interviewed Pitts when he first joined Porter Novelli last April, but his role at CMPI did not come up. In that interview he said his biggest goal with the practice was to “stop calling it a healthcare practice” because when people think healthcare they think “big pharma.” “I prefer to think of it as the public health practice,” he said.