GlaxoSmithKline's Requip should make about $500 million this year--not bad for a drug that treats a syndrome that few people knew existed before the company launched a multi-pronged marketing effort
Glaxo began its blitz by advertising restless-legs syndrome (RLS) to doctors in medical journals. Then it sent specialists to discuss the disease with general practitioners. The
drug was so heavily advertised directly to consumers that some doctors accuse Glaxo of disease-mongering.
Requip--a compound that regulates the brain chemical dopamine, which is
responsible for controlling body movements--was originally developed to treat Parkinson's disease. Glaxo realized Requip's potential for treating RLS after some doctors began prescribing it off-label
for the disorder, which can keep severe sufferers awake all night.
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