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Executive Summary

PRIMAXIN's BROADER ANTIBACTERIAL "COVERAGE" COMPARED TO CEFTAZIDIME is its primary advantage, Merck maintained at an analysts meeting on Jan. 8 highlighting the recent approvals of Primaxin (imipenem/cilastatin) and Vasotec (enalapril). Outlining how Primaxin stands up to its key competitors, Merck said that Primaxin has "better coverage" against gram positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, and anaerobic infections, such as Bacillus fragilis. Merck's major competition from Primaxin will come from aminoglycoside combinations and from several third generation cephalosporins, including ceftazidime, the firm predicted. In addition to recently launched ceftazidime, marketed by Glaxo (Fortaz) and Lilly (Tazidime), Merck cited Pfizer's Cefobid and Hoechst-Roussel's Claforan as other cephalosporins that Primaxin will square off against. Merck does not expect Primaxin to cannibalize Mefoxin sales, estimated by the company at $220 mil. in the U.S. in 1985. Mefoxin use, Merck pointed out, has been focused on "community-acquired" infections and on prophylaxis. The company noted that Primaxin's primary usage will be against "hospital-acquired" infections, particularly gram negative rods such as Pseudomonas, Serratia, and Enterobacteriae. The company said that its marketing strategy will be to position Primaxin as an appropraite antibiotic for serious hospital infections of unknown etiology, mixed infections, and nosocomial infections. In attempting to distinguish Primaxin, Merck said it would emphasize the drug's high antimicrobial activity, its broad spectrum of activity, and its novelty as the first of a new class of anti-infectives for the hospital armamentarium. In addition, the firm's marketing efforts will cite studies showing the drug's relative cost-effectiveness to aminoglycoside combination therapy ("The Pink Sheet" Dec. 23, p. 6). Asked how Primaxin was being received by hospital formularies early in its introduction, Merck responded that the current level of orders is running ahead of formulary acceptance, indicating that hospital pharmacies may be ordering the drug in anticipation of formulary acceptance at upcoming P&T cmte. meetings.

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