GlaxoSmithKline extends Garnier’s contract as migraine blockbuster goes OTC in UK

GlaxoSmithKline last week said it would extend the contract of CEO Jean-Paul Garnier to May 2008. Garnier’s contract was set to expire in October 2007, upon his 60th birthday. GlaxoSmithKline chairman, Sir Christopher Gent, said the move “will enable the Board to complete the process for appointing his successor.” Garnier said in a statement, “I believe that the next two years will see further confirmation of GSK’s strong and innovative pipeline, with many significant filings and launches of new medicines and vaccines.” Meanwhile, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved GlaxoSmithKline’s migraine treatment Imigran (sold under the brand name Imitrex in the US) for over-the-counter (OTC) sales without a prescription. Glaxo will start selling the OTC version in June as “Imigran Recovery,” which contains 50 milligrams of active ingredient sumatriptan, at $15 for a pack of two tablets. Imigran’s OTC designation will extend the life of the brand in the UK, where it recently lost patent protection. Global Imigran (Imitrex) sales totaled $1.3 billion, with the US accounting for $950 million. The UK is viewed as a leader in the OTC switch of prescription products. Two years ago, the nation became first in the world to allow OTC sales of a cholesterol treatment—a low-dose version of Merck’s Zocor (simvastatin). Glaxo is also awaiting US approval for a low-dose OTC version of Roche’s Xenical obesity pill, which it plans to market under the brand name Alli.