In a much-publicized spring 2000 decision, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration forced type-2 diabetes drug Rezulin, made by Warner-Lambert Co. (now Pfizer), off the market because of a potential for problems.
That opened the door for 30-year-old Erin Brubaker, senior product manager of rival Avandia, and her team at SmithKline Beecham. They moved quickly to launch a print and radio campaign encouraging Rezulin users to ask their doctors about shifting to Avandia.
The campaign noted there are alternatives to Rezulin, and apparently the message resonated. SmithKline reportedly saw an influx of calls to its toll-free hot line and a jump in visits to its Avandia Web site. The drug went on to have a banner year and continues to serve as a growth driver.
In June 2001, the marketer said Avandia-part of a revolutionary new class of diabetes treatments that work to target insulin resistance-eached the 10 million prescription level after only two years on the market. Total U.S. retail sales for 2000 were some $883 million, according to NDC Health.