GSK sees success with RLS campaign

GlaxoSmithKline’s marketing campaign for Requip, a restless leg syndrome (RLS) treatment, has garnered the company a good deal of negative attention. Critics say the pharmaceutical giant publicized the disease through pharma rep visits to doctors, magazine and television advertising in order to create a market for the indication. Before the marketing blitz, RLS was a little-know disease. Requip was originally a treatment for Parkinson’s, but when physicians began prescribing it off-label for RLS, GSK seized the opportunity to increase the drug’s sales. “Today, the drug, Requip, is on track to post sales of $500 million this year, making it one of the fastest-growing drugs in Glaxo's portfolio,” notes the Wall Street Journal. Parkinson’s treatment accounts for less than half of those sales. GSK’s revitalized Requip model isn’t going unnoticed by other pharmaceutical industry players. “Pharmaceutical companies, under pressure to find new sales amid pressure from generic rivals, are seeking to treat an ever-expanding range of illnesses and to find additional illnesses their drugs can be used to treat. As a result, they increasingly need to combat skepticism about a disease, just as Glaxo did with RLS,” report s the WSJ. Other drugs makers, such as Germany’s Boehringer-Ingelheim and Belgium's UCB are also seeking RLS indications for their Parkinson’s drugs. Report (sub. req.)