GSK offers New Yorkers an ‘Alli Experience’

GlaxoSmithKline yesterday kicked off its educational campaign behind OTC diet pill Alli (orlistat), debuting a multimedia exhibit in New York’s bustling Union Square neighborhood. The free exhibit, dubbed the “Alli Experience,” was crafted with help from HealthSTAR Public Relations and is part of GSK’s $150 million marketing push behind the weight loss drug slated to go on sale June 15. Steve Burton, VP of the weight control division at GSK’s healthcare unit, told reporters during a press conference prior to exhibit’s opening to the public that he hopes the Alli Experience will help start the conversation that losing weight is hard work. “We’re not the total answer,” Burton said. “The answer is individual commitment in partnership with Alli and all the support and education the Alli program offers.” The Alli Experience will remain open to the public through June 10. In March, MM&M reported that GSK would also be making a foray into the world of publishing as part of its Alli marketing efforts, with a companion book featuring recipe and lifestyle tips. The 140-page soft-cover volume – titled Are You Losing It? – is expected to go on sale in retail outlets including Kmart and Wal-Mart beginning in this month. The FDA approved Alli in February as an OTC weight-loss aid for overweight adults to be used in conjunction with a reduced calorie diet and exercise program. Orlistat was first granted FDA approval in 1999 as the branded prescription product Xenical, which is sold in the US by Roche. Xenical will continue to be available in its 120 mg capsule prescription form while Alli will be sold in a 60 mg. dose. Alli will cost about $1.20 - $1.80-a-day, comparable to a bag of potato chips and a Diet Coke, Burton said. GSK has previously estimated that 5 million to 6 million Americans would buy the drug over the counter.