Consumer Awareness or Disease Mongering? GlaxoSmithKline and the Restless Legs Syndrome

Case Solution

David P. Baron
Stanford Graduate School of Business ()

In 2005, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market Requip (ropinirole) for restless legs syndrome. Requip has already been approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Prior to its approval by the FDA, GSK had already conducted an intensive advertising campaign for Requip, issued press releases, advertised to physicians in medical journals, and referred directly to consumers. In 2003, the company began raising consumer awareness of RLS with an ad campaign that said “a new survey reveals a common but underrated restless leg syndrome that keeps Americans awake at night.” While GSK stated that its campaign would only raise awareness of the SPI, others disagreed. GSK has been accused of “causing illness” or trying to turn ordinary people with ordinary experiences into patients. This case explores GSK’s tactics and the difference between advocacy and inappropriate drug promotion.

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