CAMPAIGNS: Weekly Web Watch - Flu beater Relenza fights back

Company: Glaxo Wellcome
Issue: National Institute of Clinical Excellence recommendation on

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.

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