Outlook: Avandia ahead

SMITHKLINE BEECHAM is this summer expected to get clearence for the launch of its new diabetes drug, Avandia. FDA approval is expected in June and the roll out in Europe will begin from the Autumn onwards. This is a big thing for SmithKline; Avandia is widely seen as a potential block buster, with huge potential.

In order fully to realise that potential, SmithKline wants the right to advertise its new product in Europe. This is already possible in the US, where prescription drugs are widely promoted to the public at large. The result is that doctors and health care plans come under intense public pressure to prescribe those products. In Europe this is not allowed. The only way a pharmaceuticals company can market its products is through doctors and hospitals. Word of mouth and the press can help a lot, but there is no direct route to the consumer. And quite right too, many will say.

However, governments may not be able to resist the tide for much longer. The internet is changing the world before their eyes. Extensive information is available on Avandia through the net, where it is widely listed as a revolutionary new treatment for type two diabetes even though it is not yet available. Despite the ban on advertising, then, extensive brand awareness has already been established.

The net is also going to change the way pharmaceutical products are sold in other ways too. At the moment this is a highly regulated industry in which it is often a criminal offence to sell a product cross border.

For instance, wholesalers are not allowed to import pharmaceutical products into the US from Europe, so if the price is cheaper in Europe, they cannot take advantage of it. On the other hand, there seems little the authorities can do to stop individuals buying their prescription drugs in this way over the net, so over time the price of pharmaceutical products can be expected to fall to the lowest common denominator.

All industries are going to be affected by this deflationary effect on prices to some degree, but for pharmaceuticals, it is plainly going to be more dramatic, if only because the present high degree of regulation causes big price differentials between countries.

It would none the less be wrong to assume the industry will lose out as a result of these influences. By promoting consumer awareness on the one hand, and price transparancy on the other, the net might eventually allow drug companies to charge what they like for their products globally, or put another way, what the market will take, rather than having their prices set by governments.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower