Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Journey Continues – Down the Rabbit Hole

After several weeks of visiting Big Pharma’s websites or those of their agents, I’m still shaking my head over what I’ve been finding. Namely, nothing. Last week I used the overused analogy about the Titanic. This week, I followed the Avandia story and thought maybe I would finally find a company that I might be on the cusp of finding a company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in this case, finally having to recognize reality. Well, with apologies to Lewis Carroll, I was wrong and went down the rabbit hole.

First, a quick recap. This past week, the FDA placed serious restrictions on GSK’s diabetes drug, Avandia, while, the EMA instituted a recall. (Details can be found at the website Avandia Recall News ( ).) So, in my innocence, I thought that maybe GSK’s website ( ) might have some insight and reflection on what’s going on. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I got that one wrong.

At GSK’s website, I found contact information for patients, medical professionals, investors and the media. There was also a statement and video from Dr. Ellen Strahlman, GSK’s chief medical officer. (I wonder where their CEO, Andrew Witty, is in all this.) It had the air of being slapped together. In fairness, I guess that would be the first reaction. But, as I went over the website, I found what I’d found earlier at other Big Pharma websites and that was a complete lack of concern over where the industry is going.

GSK’s three strategic priorities ( ) are plastered all over their website. But, I find them to be the usual corporate fluff that doesn’t seem to be focused on the industry’s problems. The website is not as well laid out as some of their competitors and its message was confusing to me.

For me, my journey has, so far, not been very encouraging. This week’s visit is the capstone of this trip. Here’s a major drug company facing a global recall on one of its major products and it’s being treated like a minor appliance recall would be in another industry. Sure, I get the fact that for legal and regulatory reasons many things cannot be said. But, where’s the awareness that a very different regulatory climate is forming out there and this is even before U.S. healthcare reform kicks in. Where’s the leadership? Either at a company level or in the industry? I don’t see it.

I don’t mean to be an alarmist but I believe that we’re seeing another major industry preparing to roll over and go to the bottom. I’ll continue with this blog stream for a while longer because I want to learn if anyone in the industry is thinking about this.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.

Contributed by Guy de Lastin

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