Glaxosmithkline's Marketing Strategy for Requip: A Case Study in Product Lifecycle Management

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG173
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 2002-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : GlaxoSmithKline, Plc.
Industry : Pharmaceutical
Countries : USA, Europe

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"Behind Requip's sales boom is Glaxo's marketing machine, which has persuaded many consumers and physicians to accept restless-legs syndrome, or RLS, as a real condition warranting treatment."1

- The Wall Street Journal, in 2006.

"The argument the pharmaceutical industry is always making is that this is patient education - that this is an under-diagnosed condition and 'we're just trying to raise awareness.' If you're talking about something like hepatitis C or measles, that might be true. But if you're talking about toenail fungus, or baldness, or restless leg syndrome, I just don't buy it."2

- Michael Wilkes, Professor of Medicine and Vice Dean for Medical Education, University of California, Davis, in 2006.

"You need to talk to the patients. Things like restless leg syndrome can ruin people's lives. It is easy to trivialise things when you don't have them. If people did not want the treatments, they would not seek them." 3

- David Stout, Head of pharmaceutical operations, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, in 2006.

Restless Marketing?

On January 31, 2007, the NBC Nightly News4 aired a story on a disorder Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and why GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), the world's second largest pharmaceutical company, had so heavily advertised its drug Requip (Ropinirole hydrochloride) for this disorder on the news channel. The news story attracted a lot of criticism from a section of the audience as they viewed it as a publicity stunt by GSK.

RLS had been a relatively unknown disorder. People suffering from the disorder have an uncontrollable urge to move the legs in order to stop uncomfortable, painful, or odd sensations in the legs.

The disorder soon became a household name after GSK started its marketing effort to increase awareness about RLS among doctors and the consumers.

The company felt that its drug for the treatment of Parkinson's disease5 (PD), Requip, which is marketed as Adartrel in Europe, could be an effective treatment for RLS. Since 2003, GSK had funded many research studies on the subject and some patient advocacy groups to promote awareness of RLS and getting Requip approved for the treatment of RLS.

On May 5, 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration6 (FDA) approved Requip for the treatment of RLS. But even months before its approval, GSK had been carrying out RLS awareness campaigns in medical magazines and journals targeting doctors.

Glaxosmithkline's Marketing Strategy for Requip: A Case Study in Product Lifecycle Management - Next Page>>

1] Jeanne Whalen, "How Glaxo Marketed a Malady to Sell a Drug,", October 26, 2006.

2] Rob Stein, "Marketing the Illness and the Cure?", May 30, 2006.

3] Fiona Walsh, "Glaxo Denies Pushing 'Lifestyle' Treatments,", April 28, 2006.

4] NBC Nightly News is the popular evening news program for NBC News, the news division of TV broadcasting company, NBC.

5] Parkinson's disease is a neurological disease that affects muscle control. Patient afflicted with this disease experience tremors, lack of coordination, and difficulty in walking.

6] US Food and Drug Administration is a branch of the US federal government that approves new drugs for sale in the US.


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