GSK and Ozone prepare blitz for Imigran switch

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is using Chime-owned agency Ozone to advise on comms around the reclassification of its market-leading migraine treatment Imigran as it switches from prescription-only to over-the-counter (OTC) status.

The agency, which advised Johnson & Johnson/Merck Sharp & Dohme (now McNeil) on heart drug Zocor's high-profile and controversial switch to OTC status last year, is handling a media and stakeholder relations programme.

The application to make Imigran available OTC is with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and was put forward for an eight-week public consultation last month. The MHRA will assess whether an OTC licence should be granted based on this feedback and advice from the Committee on the Safety of Medicines.

Imigran is one of two migraine treatments in the category known as triptans to be put up for reclassification - the other is AstraZeneca's Zomig.

Ozone has 'developed messages' for GSK and organised stakeholder meetings.

Communication with pharmacists and consumers will begin only after MHRA approval for the switch.

'Switching to OTC requires the creation of a new environment for prescription users and several million other sufferers, who are either using a headache pill or lying in a dark room until the pain subsides,' said Ozone MD Paul Jarman.

He added: 'Where there was once a single point of reference for sufferers in the form of their GP, there will now be many more.'

Migraine treatments have featured on a Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain list of treatments suitable for reclassification to OTC status since 2002.

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