Bacall's publicist also declined comment for this interview and a representative from Novartis did not offer a comment.
Although Bacall was one of the first to be noticed by the media at large, Cassels said drug companies have been using creative marketing techniques for generations.
In the 1960s a doctor named Robert A. Wilson toured the country with his buzz-generating book "Feminine Forever." According to Wilson, women could reap illustrious health benefits and never face the struggle of menopause symptoms by taking hormone replacement therapy long after menopause.
"It was later found out that he was on the payroll of Wyeth," said Cassels. He added that he interviewed Wyeth and other drug companies for his book and that each link was confirmed.
During the heyday of NBC's "The West Wing," star Rob Lowe did an array of media spots in magazines, in videos on the Web and in interviews to champion awareness for a little-known but severe side effect of chemotherapy called febrile neutropenia.
However, Lowe didn't spend a lot of time explaining the new drug -- Neulasta, made by Amgen -- that had recently hit markets to treat the condition.
In a short spot in People magazine, Lowe described the difficulty he experienced as various family members went through cancer, including his mother and grandmother. The magazine only briefly mentioned "a biotech company" that hosted a Web site with Lowe's videos.
Messages to Lowe's publicist were not returned. But Doner, who brokered Lowe's deal with Amgen in 2002, noted that celebrities are restricted from describing a drug if they have not personally taken it.
"There are FDA guidelines surrounding the issue -- unless the celebrity has personal experience with the drug," said Doner. "Unless that's the case, they're just talking about general disease awareness and would be paired with a medical expert who could talk about the treatment options. I would say more often than not, you're pairing the celebrity with the doctor."
Before the age of celebrity drug endorsements, both open and unpublicized, Doner said that pharmaceutical companies relied mostly on trade journals or through medical journalists.
Then around the mid- to late 1990s, according to Doner, pharmaceutical companies began to turn to celebrities, especially after their newfound freedom when direct to consumer advertising laws loosened.
"All of a sudden you could find yourself on 'The View' or entertainment magazine," said Doner.
Along with the newfound buzz came a string of celebrity awareness campaigns for conditions that normally wouldn't see the light of day on TV news -- erectile dysfunction or irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS.
In 2000, "Frasier" TV star Kelsey Grammer who played Dr. Frasier Crane for nearly 20 years began to talk about his wife's IBS. In an article in USAToday, the journalist mentioned that Grammer was inspired to speak out after Camille received tremendous public response when she mentioned IBS during a radio interview.
However, the Grammers were a client of Doner and were reportedly also part of a campaign for the new IBS drug Lontronex, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
A publicist for Grammer said he could not comment because his wife, not the actor, was part of the campaign.