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Humanist, humorist

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

GSK - A Niche Strategy Now Under Stress

Fascinating article from the New York Times about Avandia and marketing.

Published: June 6, 2007

Could a widely praised approach to drug marketing now be at risk of backfiring? That is a question confronting GlaxoSmithKline and its diabetes treatment Avandia, which is now clouded by concerns over the drug’s safety.

Della Reese, the jazz singer and actress, seemed a natural choice to star in ads for Avandia, when Glaxo signed her on in 2004. Not only does Ms. Reese have broad appeal, known most recently for her role in the television series “Touched by an Angel,” but she has Type 2 diabetes.

And while she was Avandia’s main spokeswoman, from 2004 to 2006, Ms. Reese represented a important target in Avandia’s marketing: African-American consumers.

Because Type 2 diabetes is a disease twice as likely to affect black Americans as non-Hispanic white people in this country, Avandia’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, has long placed a marketing focus on African-Americans — much more so than any other maker of diabetes drugs, according to industry executives.

In the eight years that Avandia has been for sale, becoming a $3-billion-a-year worldwide best seller, Glaxo’s African-American focus in the United States has won the company praise in the advertising industry and from some black doctors. They credit the campaigns for putting a friendly face on a drug for a disease that too often goes untreated, particularly among minority groups.


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