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Monday, July 09, 2012

Advair Launch 2001: GSK's “Myth of Mild” Campaign



The Department of Justice website has uploaded video excerpts of GlaxoSmithKline's promotional push of Advair to its reps. The video excerpts, from Las Vegas, even show former Glaxo head, JP Garnier, get in on the act, relaying the message, “...it would be criminal to not put an asthmatic patient on Advair”. It's hard to know who or where this message originated from as 'JP', it seems, is quoting someone else.

Hmm, nice use of the word 'criminal', JP.

GSK's Advair is used to prevent asthma attacks, and to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and the recent whistleblower suit, that GSK plead guilty to and paid a record $3 billion in fines, shows how they aggressively marketed it with promotional 'get togethers' as shown in the video  excerpts [below]

video


The whistleblower filings in the US Courts also name senior managers at GlaxoSmithKline for aggressively urging sales of Advair for forms of asthma that it was not indicated for, such as mild intermittent attacks, such as the senior manager telling the audience in the video, "The clinical data that supports Advair, you know you gotta just ask the simple question...what patient with asthma is not appropriate for Advair?" [Video around the 2 minute mark] whilst another tells the audience, "...there are people in this room who are going to make an ungodly amount of money selling Advair."


According to documents Glaxo even launched a “Myth of Mild” asthma campaign, its sole purpose, it seems, to target sufferers of mild asthma, even though Advair was not indicated for patients who suffered with mild asthma.


All Glaxo reps needed to do was to tell the doctors prescribing it. 



Documents also reveal that in 2004 Chris Viehbacher, former head of US pharmaceuticals at GSK, told investors at a meeting in London, “The real opportunity for us with Advair is that we can now convince physicians that there is no such thing as mild or severe asthma.” 


Amazing isn't it? And there was me thinking that pharmaceutical companies invented illnesses, not dismissed them!


Viehbacher is now Chief Executive Officer at Sanofi.


GSK's CEO, Andrew Witty, said in a statement about the record payout that “Today brings to resolution difficult, long-standing matters for (Glaxo). Whilst these originate in a different era for the company, they cannot and will not be ignored. On behalf of (Glaxo), I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learnt from the mistakes that were made,” 


A different era?

In actual fact, and what the mainstream press seem to be missing here, is that Andrew Witty was the Vice President and General Manager of Marketing of Glaxo Wellcome Inc. [GlaxoWellcome and SmithKline Beecham merged in 2000 to become GlaxoSmithKline.] Some of his responsibilities included, strategy development, marketing execution and new product positioning. Witty and his team were awarded a Medical Marketing Association [MMA] award [Medical Marketer of the Year] in 1998. He also worked in the Company’s International New Products groups, both in the Respiratory and HIV/Infectious disease fields.

Two words - Marketing and Respiratory. Alarm bells anyone?


In a perverse twist of fate during Witty's rise to success he was actually a sales representative for the respiratory business!

I'm just left wondering if, whilst a rep for Glaxo, Witty offered incentives to doctors... or if he actually thought that was morally wrong. If he did then any talk of era's at GSK must land at his feet and the buck-passing blame game must stop.

Apart from Paxil [Seroxat] and Advair, GSK also violated the promotional terms of  Imitrex, Valtrex,  Lotronex and Lamictal.

GSK's corporate tagline is, "GlaxoSmithKline helps people to do more, feel better and live longer."

Can someone please hand me a vomit bag!

Related:

GSK - The Company With Great Ethics

GlaxoSmithKline - Pinsky, Bradshaw and Promises

GlaxoSmithKline's Perverse Olympic Games

Glaxo's Qui Tam Paxil Complaint




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