At a glance: GSK prepares for OTC migraine comms drive

Is this about what one tabloid has described as a ‘migraine pill hope’? Yes, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has said that GlaxoSmithKline’s anti-migraine pill Imigran (sumatriptan), formerly prescription-only (POM), can switch to over-the-counter (OTC) status next month – hence last Saturday’s headline in The Sun.

It will be sold under the brand name Imigran Recovery.

How does it work?
It targets the blood vessels inside the brain and acts to reduce their swelling. That inflammation is thought to be one of the major causes of migraine pain.

Who’s doing the PR?
Ozone is handling PR for the switch. Director Andrew Knill is leading the account, reporting to the ‘innovations’ group, part of GSK Consumer Healthcare UK.

Doesn’t Ozone already have form in this area?
Indeed. It handled PR for the 2004 POM to OTC switch of Zocor Heart-Pro, an anti-cholesterol treatment manufactured by McNeil – then called Johnson & Johnson MSD.

What will the agency be doing?
A mixture of trade and consumer PR, in addition to helping with professional relations as GSK seeks to educate pharmacists on how to recommend the drug. After the OTC launch next month, Ozone will be putting in place programmes to maintain brand awareness among migraine sufferers.

So does Imigran only come in tablet form?
It has a number of formulations: injection and nasal spray as well as 100mg tablets. But it is the 50mg tablets that have been cleared for OTC use.

Is it only available for adults?
Yes, even though migraines are a huge problem for kids, affecting up to one in nine children. But it is estimated that 18 per cent of women and six per cent of men suffer.

So, are a lot of drugs switching to OTC status now?
The process is speeding up. The Government wants ten drugs per year reclassified from POM to OTC in 12 therapeutic areas. Zocor is probably the most high-profile of these so far, although Schering Health Care’s morning-after pill, Levonelle, also caused a major stir when it was reclassified five years ago.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in