GlaxoSmithKline to cut back on Television


GlaxoSmithKline is slashing its U.S. television advertising. That’s right, the U.K.-based drugmaker is backing away from DTC ads, saying that it’s not only pinching pennies, but also looking to deflect critics of drugmakers’ TV marketing.

As the Wall Street Journal/FercePharma report, CEO Andrew Witty wouldn’t say exactly how much the company will back away from TV ads. The company spent $279.1 million on consumer ads during the first half of 2008, down 23% from the same period of 2007. In many cases, consumer marketing does help patients, he told the WSJ. "I do, however, think there is too much… This year, you will see us do less on TV than you have in the past."

The ad pledge comes soon after GSK announced it would pull back on its lobbying efforts. Contributions to political candidates and causes will be limited, Witty said at the time, to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. And GSK’s move comes as the trade group PhRMA put new marketing restrictions on its members.

GSK is either reacting to–or helping create–a new atmosphere of austerity and transparency in Big Pharma. With lawmakers pushing for reform and disclosures on one side, and consumers and medical schools and some doctors pushing from the other, the drug industry appears poised for change. If a DTC pullback is just one part of that shift, this could shape up to be a watershed year.