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GlaxoSmithKline's New Ally For Alli

Normally, the folks at GlaxoSmithKline keep us tightly in the loop when there's news.

So, I'm a bit surprised that it took a "tweet" on Twitter this morning to learn that four days ago the company put out a press releasethat has "Pharma's Market" written all over it. On second thought, maybe that's why GSK didn't send me this one.

In fact, if you go to the GSK website, the press release isn't even on the press release page.

Anyway, you may have seen the commercials in recent weeks featuring singer Wynonna Judd singing the praises of GSK's over-the-counter diet drug Alli (sounds like ally.)

She's an interesting choice for a weightloss product pitchperson since she's still kind of "zaftig". I mean, the diet plan companies, drug and supplement makers and exercise gadget hawkers almost always use svelte, buff spokesmodels and show "before" photos.

Source: myalli.com

Making the arrangement even more unique is the second phase of the campaign announced earlier this week.

The first 200,000 people who buy a 30-day starter pack or 170-count refill of Alli will get a free copy of Wynonna's new CD "Sing," her first release in five years.

Well, that's one way to move discs, I guess.

GSK sold $139 million worth of Alli last year. $131 million of that was in the U.S.

It's a relatively small product.

And it could face stiff, new competition in the not-too-distant future. In an unprecedented confluence, three biopharma companies—Arena, Vivus and Orexigen—are all in the last stage of human testing of prescription diet pills.

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Glaxo may have also gotten wise to the fact that I have a habit of pointing out that Alli can have uncomfortable, messy, embarrassing digestive side effects if you eat food with too much fat in it.

'Nuf said.

Check out my report today on the Obesity Triple Play.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com and follow me on Twitter at mhuckman

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