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AHF Blasts GSK Over Expensive New Ad Campaign


-- US' Largest AIDS Group Says Almost 2.2 Million People With AIDS Worldwide Could be Saved with the $300 Million That GSK Spent on Network TV Ads Last Year:

Just One 30 Second Spot on 'Law & Order' Could Pay for One Year of ARVs for 1,900 People LOS ANGELES, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the US which operates clinics in the US, Africa and Central America, today blasted British-owned pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK) over reports yesterday on the launch of an expensive new direct-to-consumer corporate advertising campaign by GSK consisting of print advertisements and television commercials that will cost millions of dollars.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, " ... the London-based drug maker, with a U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia, is launching a national corporate ad campaign ... in an election year when politicians are clamoring for lower drug prices to appease voters, senior citizens are agitating for affordable medicines, and record numbers of Americans are buying their prescription drugs from Canada ... " The story also noted that, "Last year, Glaxo spent nearly $700 million on all media advertising in the first 11 months, including close to $300 million on network ads during that time."

"Almost 2.2 million people with AIDS in the developing world could be saved with the $300 million that GSK spent on its network television advertising last year," said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President. "And yet GSK now chooses to spend what will likely be much, much more by also promoting themselves directly to consumers so they may continue to charge the US government and US citizens outrageous amounts for drugs that were frequently developed with substantial taxpayer support. Like Nancy Reagan, we should all just say 'no'."

According to the Inquirer article, "Glaxo will run two ads-a 60-second television spot ... and a 30-second ad portraying a grandmother-during the morning Today show, on noon news programs, and on evening prime-time television, including the shows Law and Order and The Apprentice." The news report also noted, "A 30-second ad on The Apprentice could run $300,000, while a 30-second spot on Law and Order could cost $265,000."

"Last fall, The Clinton Foundation negotiated prices for generic ARVs in the developing world down to $138 per patient per year," said Weinstein. "So every time a 30 second GSK commercial runs during Law and Order, more than 1,900 people could have received life-saving anti-retroviral medications for one full year with the money that GSK spent on that one commercial."

GSK's new campaign's tagline states, "We're helping you get the medicines you need today. We're investing to bring you better medicines for tomorrow." "Between GSK's reluctance to lower AIDS drug pricing in the developing world and the bitter, very public fight over its $36 million dollar executive compensation package for CEO JP Garnier last year which was wisely voted down by shareholders, GSK has had its share of bad PR," added Weinstein. "However, GSK, which controls 40% of the worldwide AIDS drug market, would rather burnish their own public image here in the US than help save the lives of more than two million people. One Morningstar analyst following GSK said it best last year: 'They are beginning to make the tobacco companies look good'."

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)


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Information in this article was accurate in March 17, 2004. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.