GLAXO's CEFTIN LAUNCH HAS GENERATED $ 25 MIL. IN SALES DURING THE FIRST THREE MONTHS; GLAXO IS FIFTH IN U.S. DRUG BUSINESS BASED ON ZANTAC GROWTH
The Glaxo/Roche co-promotion team has the oral second-generation cephalosporin Ceftin (cefuroxime axetil) on track for a $ 100 mil. launch year, according to three-month figures disclosed by Glaxo Senior VP Alan Steigrod at a June 8 financial seminar sponsored by Bear, Stearns. "The two selling forces once again selling Glaxo products have very successful," Steigrod declared. He reported that "we sold $ 25 mil. of Ceftin in the first three months." Steigrod's dollar figure supports anecdotal evidence of a fast launch for the oral cephalosporin reported by Glaxo during meetings with analysts in April of this year. A printed summary of the April meetings notes that Glaxo's "sell-in to wholesalers in the U.S. was particularly successful as it reached 92% of all retail accounts, contributing to a very good February for Glaxo Inc." Glaxo also observed that "during the first four weeks after launch, the reorder rate was an outstanding 25% of the initial sell-in." Glaxo is aiming Ceftin primarily at Lilly's fast-growing Ceclor (cefaclor) oral cephalosporin. "With Ceftin," Steigrod noted, "we're up against Eli Lilly & Co., which is a master in antibiotics and has over 1,000 sales people detailing Ceclor." According to Glaxco market figures, Ceclor was about a $ 330 mil. product in 1987. Glaxo's own in-house sales force has recently grown to about 1,400 sales reps, but Steigrod pointed out that the addition of the Roche sales team was considered necessary to win sufficient attention versus the established Lilly product. "We felt that by combining again with Roche to increase the noise level that we could gain a rapid penetration of the market, and again, that seems to be successful," Steigrod said. Steigrod reminded the analysts that Glaxo and Roche initiated the trend toward co-promotion in 1983 with the Zantac deal. At the time that deal was signed, Steigrod said, "Glaxo had a capable but small sales force of about 400 people." To compete with SK&F's five-year headstart with Tagamet and "an experienced, capable sales forces of 800 people," Steigrod said, "we felt that we needed sheer numbers of competent sales people to outmuscle SK&F to gain rapid recognition and acceptance." Steigrod said that "Hoffmann-LaRoche was a perfect match. Here was a company with a mature infrastructure and sales force, but a lagging pipeline. So we put Zantac into the hands of 1,150 Glaxo and Roche sales reps to go into the medical community." Although the terms of the co-promotion have remained undisclosed, trade sources say that Roche has received approximately $ 40 mil. per year for the Zantac detailing. Under the co-promotion, Zantac grew to a $ 675 mil product in 1987, Steigrod reported. The product has been running more than 40% ahead during 1988, and could approach the $ 1 bil. sales mark in the U.S. this year. "Co-promotion won't work for any drug or any pair of companies," Steigrod said. He maintained that the "Drug should not be a me-too drug. It should be a major drug with potential sales in excess of $ 100 mil. The drug should be detail-sensitive, and it makes sense that it go into a market place with stiff competition. If there is no one out there to do battle with, there is little advantage of having a bigger army of reps." The Zantac growth has boosted Glaxo from way down in the pack among U.S. drug companies into the top five. With over $ 1 bil. in sales in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year (through April), Steigrod said that Glaxo has become the fifth largest company in retail and hospital drug sales. Glaxo issued a June 8 press release which noted that Pharmaceutical Data Services (PDS) puts Glaxo fourth for 1987 among U.S. marketing companies in sales to retail outlets. PDS separates out marketing subsidiaries of firms, listing, for example, Wyeth and Ayerst separately in 1987 rankings. Glaxo said that "the published figures indicate that Glaxo has captured more than a 4% share of the market, compared to a 3.5% last year." Glaxo President Ernest Mario pointed out that the NO. 2 and No. 3 firms are close with "just above a 4% share."
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