GSK's Avandia woes spark talk of cuts

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UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline is eyeing cuts to its sales force in response to declining sales of its type 2 diabetes drug Avandia.

According to a report in The Times of London, Britain's largest drug company is considering a change of marketing strategy that could involve letting go or redeploying staff involved in the sale of the embattled drug.

GSK's global sales force is comprised of 30,000 people globally, with 9,000 in US.

Some analysts have predicted that GSK will try to redeploy sales force members wherever possible, rather than downsize—a move that would be in contrast to the cuts made by rivals Pfizer and AstraZeneca recently.

In July, Federal advisors recommended keeping Avandia on the market but said its label should include strict warnings on use. While not the worst outcome for GSK, the warnings could accelerate the drug company's slide in terms of share in the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) drug market.

Debate over the drug grew after a New England Journal of Medicine meta-analysis in May linked Avandia to an increased risk of heart attack. The analysis was conducted by prominent Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steven Nissen.  Avandia had sales of approximately $2.2 billion.

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