GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
Moon Township, PA
Ronald L. Rupp, DMD
Senior Professional Relations Manager
Question No. 1
Inside Dentistry (ID): The dental industry and the oral health care arena have been changing rapidly within the past 5 to 10 years. What do you see as the most significant of those changes?
Ronald Rupp (RR): To choose a single change in the dental industry within the last 5 to 10 years is difficult. As part of a global pharmaceutical company, we at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare try to understand common conditions affecting oral health and also the complex mechanisms that cause systemic diseases while striving to develop the appropriate treatment options.
For example, GSK Consumer Healthcare is striving to understand such issues as the rapidly aging population and disparities in access to dental care and oral health care among older adults. With more Americans living longer, diseases and medications play a big role in their daily lives. As the baby boomer generation begins to retire in 2011, these health issues are expected to have more impact on the patients we serve. Additionally, the link between oral health and overall systemic health is becoming an increasingly important issue to understand. As the US population becomes more and more diverse, different population segments will present unique oral care issues, making for multiple changes the profession will need to address and manage.
Question No. 2
ID: In what ways—both internally and in dealing with the broader oral health care marketplace—has your company responded to these changes?
RR: GSK Consumer Healthcare’s pipeline of quality, science-based products is targeted at addressing real and unmet needs. GSK spends $14 million a day to help improve the quality of human life and contribute to a better future for all. GSK is committed to developing products that are based in sound science so that dental professionals worldwide can recommend our products—with confidence—to their patients.
In addition to scientific research and product development, we have, for example, developed a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership with the American Dental Association (ADA) aimed at addressing the access to oral health care for the older adult population. The Initiative on Older Adult Access to Oral Health Care is a program that examines dental care and access needs issues among the aging population. Through GSK Consumer Healthcare’s grant of more than $1.25 million, the ADA is able to provide funding to individuals or groups to develop innovative programs designed to improve dental care for older Americans.
We also have partnerships with the Academy of General Dentistry, the National Dental Association, the American Dental Education Association, the American Dental Hygienists Association, the Hispanic Dental Association, and Special Care Dentistry, all designed to support our commitment to being a leader in continuing education by advocating lifelong learning within the profession.
Question No. 3
ID: What do you see as your biggest responsibility to the marketplace, and why does your choice rank as your number one priority?
RR: GSK Consumer Healthcare is somewhat unique in that all of our product offerings are sold over-the-counter (OTC). Although we have programs in place to communicate our product benefits directly to consumers, we understand the critically important role that dental professionals play in recommending our products to their patients. The strength of a dental recommendation can mean the difference between product success and failure, which is why our dental programs always include professional communications and interaction specifically directed to the dental community.
We understand the need to earn the professional’s recommendation through sound science, proven efficacy, and successful patient management. We face this challenge with a steadfast commitment to developing effective medicines and treatments for ever more challenging diseases, which may affect the entire human being in addition to oral health. This demands an enormous commitment to long-term innovative research and development, a commitment we make on a daily basis.
Question No. 4
ID: What product categories—whether preventive, restorative, operative, auxiliary, diagnostic, etc—do you feel are most in need of innovation based on what’s currently available?
RR: Our recently launched dry mouth product, Oasis®, is an excellent example of an innovative product that meets a specific, growing need. Xerostomia is a subjective complaint of a dry mouth while (actual) dry mouth is an objective finding of diminished saliva. It is estimated that millions of people in the United States are affected by xerostomia, particularly women and the elderly. Current research indicates that approximately 1 in 4 adults suffer from dry mouth and this figure increases to 40% in populations over the age of 55 years.
As dental professionals know, saliva is a vital component of such everyday processes as tasting, swallowing, speech, and digestion. It also helps defend against tooth decay and bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Medical conditions and diseases such as cancer and diabetes are oftentimes associated with dry mouth and 64% of all dry mouth episodes are reportedly associated with medication use. There are more than 400 medications that can adversely affect saliva production and the chance of suffering from dry mouth increases with the number of medications being taken.
New Oasis® Moisturizing Mouthwash and Oasis® Moisturizing Mouth Spray provide moisturization to help manage dry mouth symptoms. A unique tri-hydra formulation blends different polymers, humectants, and water for optimum moisturization. Both the mouthwash and spray have an enamel-safe pH level and are safe for use with fluoride-treatment products. From the statistics, it is clear that there is a need for OTC dry mouth products that both health care professionals can feel confident recommending and patients can feel comfortable using.
Question No. 5
ID: There are many challenges facing dentistry and oral health care today. How is your company helping to resolve them?
RR: GSK Consumer Healthcare, a leader in oral care, works with researchers, educators, clinicians, and leaders of dental organizations to improve quality of life through better oral health and well being. GSK is committed to helping dental professionals provide the best possible care for their patients through continuing education, access to up-to-date information, and innovative solutions to oral health issues.
In our industry, it is vital to have products in development to ensure that there will always be new and improved treatment options coming to the market. GSK is a recognized industry leader, with a pipeline to produce a balanced, long-term range of products addressing many diseases and conditions. We believe we can bring our spirit of innovation and development to programming by offering unique tools and education materials that dental professionals can use within their practices.
Overall, GSK’s global mission is to help improve the quality of life by enabling people to do more, feel better, and live longer.
Additional GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare products include anticavity toothpaste, Aquafresh®; antiseptic oral cleanser, Gly-Oxide®; nicotine replacement therapy products, including Commit®, NicoDerm CQ®, and Nicorette®; and cold sore therapy treatment, Abreva®.
Ronald L. Rupp, DMD