According to a Wall Street Journal article, a Glaxo spokeswoman said the company isn’t planning consumer ads defending Avandia, but won’t rule them out, either. “At the moment, there is an information vacuum, and GSK may need to step into the void,” she said.

Perhaps “vortex” is a better word than “void” in this case.

GSK coincidentally took “a short break” from U.S. Avandia ads when the safety concerns arose. Although GSK claims this move was unrelated to the recent safety concerns, one has to imagine that GSK knew full-well what was coming.

Although GSK is cautious, and rightly so, about “filling the void” with alternative Avandia safety data for consumers, it has no such qualms when it comes to propagandizing among physicians.

According to the WSJ article:

In meetings with doctors, Glaxo sales representatives are focusing on data from a large clinical trial called A Diabetes Outcome Progression Trial, or ADOPT. “We are reassuring physicians about the safety data we have, particularly looking at ADOPT,” said Alice Hunt, a Glaxo spokeswoman.

This strikes me as “deja vu all over again.”

Merck tried a similar “dodge ball” tactic of diverting doctors’ questions about the safety of Vioxx and focusing their attention on “more favorable” data.

It seems that GSK is already breaking my Rule #1 for handling its Avandia crisis: Don’t start training Avandia sales reps to “dodge” questions from physicians (see “Advice to GSK on Handling the Avandia Avalanche: Don’t Do What Merck Did“).

I expect Rule #5 to be broken next when GSK steps into the void: Don’t run TV ads telling us that “patients come first”