PHILADELPHIA: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has come under attack by a coalition of senior citizen groups for its decision to cut supplies to Canadian internet pharmacies that sell medications to Americans.
Spearheaded by Philadelphia's Action Alliance of Senior Citizens, the retaliation effort encourages seniors to boycott GSK's products. In addition to taking out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times urging seniors to "Fight Back to Stop Glaxo Now," the coalition sent out direct mailings to its members to discourage them from supporting GSK in anyway. Members of Congress have also been asked by the patient groups to give back any money they have received from GSK.
"This drug company has no regard for PR or its own image. It will stop at nothing to maintain obscene profit rates," charged Pedro Rodriguez, executive director for the Action Alliance. "GSK is the Saddam Hussein of the drug industry."
Following a rally outside GSK's headquarters on February 20, two company execs met with protesting patient groups. "We understand the concerns being expressed by seniors over drug costs," explained Nancy Pekarek, GSK spokesperson, "so we are certainly open to talking with these groups." She confirmed, however, that GSK's intent is to make seniors more aware of the discount programs it currently has in place, rather than agreeing to reinstate supplies to Canadian pharmacies.
Last month, GSK reported an increase in net income for 2002 - up 28% from the previous year to $6.34 billion.