CARDIZEM SR $ 200 MIL. FIRST-YEAR SALES
CARDIZEM SR $ 200 MIL. FIRST-YEAR SALES are possible based on prescription trends established by the previously approved verapamil sustained release calcium channel blockers. Marion Cardizem/hypertension Marketing Director Tom White described the sales potential for the recently launched Cardizem SR to a meeting for wholesalers on April 13. The product was approved for hypertension on January 23 and was launched to the trade in March. Marion referred to first-year prescription levels established by Calan SR and Isoptin SR in 1987 as a benchmark for Cardizem's potential. White told the wholesalers that if the Marion product generates the same prescription levels as the first two sustained release calcium channel blockers then first-year sales would be in the $ 140 mil. range. Marion put the combined verapamil SR prescriptions at about 500,000 by the twelfth month of marketing. Calan SR had a very strong year in 1988, almost matching new dollars with Cardizem in the calcium channel blocker class and contributing to sales of $ 240 mil. for the full Calan line ("The Pink Sheet" March 20, p. 16). Searle is in the midst of the important Cytotec (misoprostol) launch which could limit its ability to protect the Calan SR franchise against the Cardizem launch. Based on the Cardizem brand's existing dominant position in the calcium channel blocker market, Cardizem SR is likely to surpass the trend lines for verapamil. As second (and later than anticipated) into the market, Marion may benefit by not having to create the hypertension use for calcium channel blockers from scratch. If Cardizem SR can reach about 700,000 total by the twelfth month, White pointed out that would take the product to the $ 200 mil. level. White further told the wholesalers that if the prescription trend line reaches 900,000 prescriptions by the twelfth month, the product could be a $ 260 mil. item in its first year. Based on outside projections of Cardizem sales, at $ 200 mil., Cardizem SR would represent between 25%-30% of the Cardizem line of sales for the fiscal year to end in the middle of 1990. As part of the Cardizem SR launch, White said Marion is planning 30 mil. journal inserts and 1.9 mil. direct mail pieces. For Marion, the hypertension indication moves the Cardizem brand out of the cardiology speciality area into the general practitioner market. Marion also faces a challenge in initial sampling: the company is undertaking the launch with its new third-party delivery sampling plan, which the company implemented to take samples out of the hands of the detail force in response to the Dingell drug marketing (diversion) act passed in April 1988.
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