MERCK VASOTEC's "PRIMARY COMPETITIVE TARGET" IS NOT CAPOTEN,
MERCK VASOTEC's "PRIMARY COMPETITIVE TARGET" IS NOT CAPOTEN, but the more established drugs in the antihypertension market, Merck management told securities analysts on Jan. 8. Merck estimated that market share growth for the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor class will come at the expense of diuretics and current "traditional" antihypertensives. The ACE inhibitor antihypertensive category will expand four-fold over the next four years, Merck told the analysts. In a slide outlining current antihypertensive U.S. market share projections, Merck estimated that beta blockers now hold the leading share with 36% of the market followed by "traditional" agents with 31% and diuretics with 25%. Merck predicted that the ACE inhibitors' current 4% share of the antihypertensive market ($85 mil.), based on Capoten's broadened labeling last summer, would grow to 16% of a $2.86 bil. market in 1990, or approximately $450 mil. ACE inhibitor growth, Merck estimated, would come at the expense of an 11 market share point decline by "traditional" agents, and a three share point loss by diuretics over the next five years. Merck projected that beta blockers would hang on to current market share, translating into antihypertensive sales of $1 bil. by the end of the decade. Merck's goal is to "establish ACE inhibitors as a class," focusing on hypertension at a "key market." Approved Dec. 24 for all degrees of hypertension, Vasotec is still waiting for approval in congestive heart failure ("The Pink Sheet" Jan. 6, p. 6). The firm is targeting a mid-January launch. Merck is planning to take advantage of the expanded class when a second generation ACE inhibitor lisinopril, now in Phase III, reaches the market. Merck's 850-person specialized cardiovascular detail force will market Vasotec. The company estimates the hypertensive market for ACE products is approximately 6 mil. patients annually. Merck broke out this potential patient population into three groups: 1 mil. newly diagnosed patients; 1 mil. patients requiring additional therapy; and 3-4 mil. switch candidates that have poor toleration to their current antihypertensive therapy.
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