Journal supplement prompted apology from GSK

Last year, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) quietly backpedaled away from a marketing snafu that's now come to light. The company had sponsored a supplement to the journal Urology on prostate cancer--one that conveniently touted its prostate drug Avodart--but didn't fully disclose its financial support for the publication. Nor did the company stick to promoting approved uses for the drug.

According to a report from Dow Jones, the company fired off a letter of apology to doctors almost as soon as that issue of the journal was published. In that letter, North American President Deirdre Connelly says that its disclosure of funding for the supplement and financial support for some of the authors didn't go far enough.

GSK was the supplement's only sponsor, she wrote, adding that the supplement shouldn't have mentioned off-label uses of Avodart. "We apologize for the lack of sufficient transparency and for the errors," the letter states.

The company conducted an internal investigation, then disciplined employees and reported the problem to Health and Human Services' inspector general, Dow Jones reports.

GSK isn't the first drugmaker to dabble in journal publishing. Merck hired Elsevier several years ago to publish a faux journal. Urology also happens to be published by Elsevier--a different division, however--and the company says it wasn't aware of GSK's full support of the supplement.

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