SELDANE IS THE TOP NEW Rx RETAIL PRODUCT IN 1985 WITH PHARMACY SALES ANNUALIZED AT $50 MIL.; DRUG IS SECOND TOP PRODUCT LAUNCH FOR MERRELL DOW IN TWO YEARS
Seldane (terfenadine) was the star performer among new retail pharmaceutical products launched in 1985, generating $35 mil. in sales (at pharmacy cost) in eight months. According to market figures derived by Pharmaceutical Data Services (PDS), Seldane is a $50 mil. product on an annualized basis. From its launch last May, Seldane's marketshare increased sharply, with both total Rxs and new Rxs peaking in September, at 500,000 and 375,000 Rxs a month, respectively. After September, however, Rx activity declined, coinciding with the end of the allergy season. Merrell Dow has had the top product launch for the last two years. In 1984, the firm's smoking deterrent, Nicorette, easily led the rest of the pack with roughly $24 mil. in sales. The company's two largest retail Rx products, Nicorette and Seldane together made up roughly 38% of the company's $216 mil. drug business in 1985. Noting that Seldane, a non-sedating antihistamine, is currently available OTC in other countries, PDS VP Michael Smith pointed out to financial analysts in NYC on Feb. 13 that the product could switch from Rx in the U.S. "As to the likelihood that Seldane will go OTC in the future," Smith said, "I think there is a possibility in the future for this product." Not far behind Seldane among the new product launches was runner-up, Zovirax (capsule form), with $31 mil. in sales for 1985. "This product filled a significant void in the treatment of genital herpes because of the limited indications of the topical Zovirax formulation," said PDS Director of Sales & Marketing Michael Weintraub. Together, the capsule and topical formulations of Zovirax did approximately $49 mil. in sales, making the antiviral product the largest Rx drug for Burroughs Wellcome in the U.S. Zovirax accounted for roughly 20% of B-W's U.S. Rx retail sales, which totaled $249 mil. Overall, B-W's U.S. Rx and OTC sales totalled $485 mil. in 1985 ("The Pink Sheet" Jan. 27, T&G-2). Several other drugs approved within the last few years also made strong dollar sales gains in 1985, and either broke into the top 20 listing for the first time or moved higher in the ranking. Upjohn's Xanax, moved into the top 20, from 29th place in 1984 to 14th place in 1985, and showed the largest percentage sales gain, rising 85% to $152 mil. According to PDS, the drug's success can be attributed to its effectiveness in treating panic phobias and depression and to a move away from Roche's Valium. Cardizem proved the up and comer in the calcium channel blocker market, moving up 12 slots into sixteenth place among all retail drugs. Sales of Cardizem rose 67% during 1985 to $140 mil. "If this drug receives approval for (mild to moderate) hypertension," Weintraub predicted, "it could have a major impact, not only on the calcium antagonist market, but beta blockers and ACE inhibitors as well." Moving among the top five drugs in 1985 were Glaxo's anti-ulcer drug Zantac at number three and Stuart's beta blocker Tenormin at number five. Zantac jumped from twelfth place, and Tenormin climbed five notches from tenth place in 1984. According to PDS, the fact that physicians are now prescribing beta blockers as first line therapy for hypertension has helped boost sales of this class of drugs in general, but of Tenormin in particular. "This product alone is responsible for $72 mil. or about $38% of the $190 mil. increase in the beta blocker market in 1985," Weintraub said. Chart omitted.
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