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June 16, 2008
About a year ago, I wrote about GSK's attempt to sell the lipase inhibitor orlistat over the counter as Alli:
"So my forecast for Alli is strong sales - for a while. Then it takes a dive, never to scale those heights again, as the word gets out. And the demand continues to grow for a weight-loss drug that works. . ."
Thanks to Pharmalot, this week we find this AP story which seems to confirm that suspicion. Sales for Alli aren't up to GSK's hopes, and the company is declining to say how much repeat business there is after people have tried it out, which says all that needs to be said. And this after one of their biggest marketing campaigns ever.
What still throws me is that an analyst quoted in the piece still talks about it as a drug that should, in theory, be a big seller. As that post from last summer makes clear, I've never once understood that, since Roche never could make it a huge seller as Xenical. You'll never be able to get around the unpleasant side effects of a pancreatic lipase inhibitor, as far as I can see, and you'll never be able to advertise one without mentioning them.
I think that the new, slimmed-down GSK organization is wasting money on this whole idea. But hey, Marketing thinks it's a great opportunity. . .
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