GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) received FDA approval of the diabetes drug Avandamet last week.
The drug, previously approved as a second-course therapy was stepped up for initial treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
GSK is building upon the marketing that has previously been done for the product with an expansion of its outreach to physicians through its sales team. The pharmaceutical giant is working with Cohn & Wolfe on media outreach. C&W has been working with GSK on a contract basis since the late ‘90s and the advent of its diabetes franchise.
"Avandamet has been out there for a couple of years. It actually a very big part of our diabetes franchise at this company," said Bernadette King, manager of pharma communications at GSK. "It accounts for a big chunk of our growth within that franchise and we expect it will be even better received now that it has achieved this broader approval from the FDA."
GSK's PR efforts generally concentrate on unbranded, consumer awareness programs related to diabetes. In June the company launched a campaign called "Diabetes and You: Step it Up to Get it Down." Life-coach Bob Harper from NBC's Biggest Loser and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) assembled a panel to develop "6.5 Steps to Toward Better Blood Sugar Control," a major theme of the campaign – the 6.5 referring to blood sugar level. Harper will work with a group of diabetes patients, chronicling their struggle over the course of the year.
"Our campaigns remain unbranded because our concern is to promote diabetes awareness and to get people empowered," said King.
GSK's Consumer Health division is currently awaiting the FDA approval of its over-the-counter weight loss drug, Alli. PR for the drug, done by New York-based HealthStar – AOR for the weight control division, began with the launch of the Web site, www.questioneverything.com. According to Malesia Dunn, director of communications for GSK Consumer Health Division, the campaign will focus on positioning Alli as a safe alternative to the dietary supplements that are currently on the market.