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GSK's Offer of 50% Discount on Pills Was a "Mistake"; Press Release Published in Error

GlaxoSmithKline put out a press release offering a 50 percent price cut on all their medicines to anyone without insurance, regardless of income -- but the release was a mistake and the company has retracted the statement. The statement was made-up to test a PR distribution system. But then every PR rep's worst nightmare happened: A fake release full of bogus (and potentially costly) information made its way into the media.

You can read the original press release here. It said:

Beginning April 1, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) will offer a 50 percent discount on its medicines to patients younger than 65 years old who lack prescription drug insurance, regardless of their income.
It's not an April Fool's joke, despite the date. Fierce Pharma reports:
The release "was a test publication which was accidentally distributed through PRWeb," according to the manager. "We are currently in the process of retraction for Comtex and TradingMarkets.com. Needless to say, GlaxoSmithKline is extremely unhappy about this."
The release even disclosed a website, gsksavings.com, which is inactive but is actually owned by GSK.

There were some clues that the release was questionable. It was riddled with question marks in parentheses, as if information still needed to be checked, and several dollar numbers were represented only by "xxxx."

And the release gives us a little insight into either the way GSK would like to see itself, or the way the writer would like to see GSK. In addition to the fictional discount, GSK was to offer uninsured patients a fictional "health coach, a health care professional (??) who can provide free disease information via telephone." Predictably, the fictional largesse was met with fictional joy among the fictional uninsured:

Evelyn White, Owner, SalonStyle in Poughkeepsie, NY 'As a small business owner with a preexisting condition, I really appreciate finally having a resource like the Prescription Cost Relief Card.'
There is, of course, no SalonStyle in Poughkeepsie.

GSK says confused patients have already started contacting the company looking for the medicine discount. A PRWeb rep explained how the error happened:

"The erroneously distributed content was the product of a demo for GSK itself" said a PRWeb spokesperson. "The copy was produced just to demonstrate what a finished-product distribution would look like through our system, but it was engineered cooperatively by a GSK representative and one of our salespersons. However, it was our newswire (PRWeb.com) that initially distributed; from us to Comtex, Pheedo, Topix, and AOL, and from there to everywhere else."
So, er, the system works, then? It's just the humans who are faulty.
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