Company: Glaxo Wellcome
Issue: National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommendation on
While other organisations struggle to push themselves into the public
eye, pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Wellcome last week found itself making
headlines over not one, but two aspects of its function.
First was the news, leaked to the press before a formal announcement,
that the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) was to
recommend Glaxo Wellcome’s new drug Relenza - hoped to prop up share
prices as well as influenza sufferers - should not be made available to
patients via the NHS.
The story ran for a full seven days, while the media awaited Frank
Dobson’s confirmation of the decision, which arrived last Friday. While
the news was not all bad - Relenza has not actually been blacklisted as
an NHS drug - the Royal College of General Practitioners supported
Dobson’s decision, while the British Medical Association claimed the
drug should have been blacklisted to prevent GPs being inundated with
Days after the Relenza leak, and following more rumours in the press,
the company announced it would be shedding more than 1,500 jobs in the
UK after a manufacturing review.
Glaxo Wellcome claimed the decision was not only a blow to patients, but
that it would force companies to undertake research outside the UK, an
opinion which gained industry support.
Throughout the week in question, regular news releases were posted on
the site and flagged up on the home page. Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of
Glaxo Wellcome, who called for a reappraisal of how NICE works, is
widely quoted throughout.
The site predictably argued the case in favour of Relenza and
highlighted the loss to patients who were vulnerable to flu. However, it
does not neglect to mention the fact that it was lack of data which was
behind the NICE decision.
It also provided a response, arguing that the drug has approval in many
other countries, and that further data will only be available if Relenza
is made widely available to the public. The NHS has been asked by Frank
Dobson to assist the firm with further research.
With Glaxo Wellcome’s share price on the increase at the time of going
to press, it is interesting to note the web site also features
information for investors, including the facility to examine share
prices as far back as 60 months.