Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Glaxo Gives Me My Ticket To Sundance!

Alli Diet Pills

I've always wanted go to Robert Redford's star-studded "independent" film festival in Utah. And, now, I might have a legitimate excuse to get CNBC to pay for it. No, I'm not trying to horn in on Julia Boorstin's beat. Rather, I'm working off of a piece in today's "New York Times" that GlaxoSmithKline wants to be a producer.

The drug company is reportedly bankrolling a "documentary" about eating.


I wonder if this piece of cinematic journalism might include a mention or maybe just a single subliminal frame of GSK's diet drug Alli. That's the widely advertised over-the-counter product that helps people lose weight, but also causes some unfortunate patients to seriously soil their pants and pass gas. A spokesperson for the nonprofit group Glaxo is teaming up with to make the movie told the Times, "This won't be a marketing tool at all." Uh, yeah, and I've got a bridge....

So, here's where Sundance comes in.

According to the article, the producers are trying to organize some kind of panel discussion at the festival to address the entertainment industry's role in helping fight obesity. It will supposedly feature folks like Jeff Garlin from "Curb Your Enthusiasm," Ricki Lake and Emme (pronounced like the TV award Emmy), the trailblazing, big-girl model.

Three companies are on the verge of possibly coming to market within the next year or so with individual prescription diet pills. The timing of the Glaxo production strikes me as a newfangled way to try to get some buzz for a product that brought in a paltry $251 million in the first nine months of last year and that could soon face some very intense competition. Clearly, on the heels of the "Nicorette Suck" ad campaign, GSK is trying to think way outside the marketing box.

I'll be asking GSK CEO Andrew Witty about all this during my first interview with him next Tuesday live from the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference between 3 and 4 p.m. ET. I'm pleased to finally get that "get." But what I really want to do is direct.

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