RORER MAALOX OTC COMBINATION WITH H ANTAGONIST
RORER MAALOX OTC COMBINATION WITH H ANTAGONIST is under consideration by the company, Exec VP Ralph Thurman told analysts at a Nov. 21 research conference sponsored by Mabon Nugent. Thurman noted that the recent J&J/Merck purchase of ICI's OTC business and the resulting possibility of a Pepcid (famotidine)/Mylanta combination has "quadrupled the interest by people who have H [compounds] to align themselves with Maalox." Rorer is "in the midst . . . of discussions" about a possible combination product, he reported. * Thurmond did not specify which H antagonist the company is contemplating. However, he identified Glaxo's Zantac (ranitidine) as the product thought to be the best H "by most people's measures." OTC rights to Zantac are held by Sandoz. Thurmond also indicated that SmithKline's Tagamet (cimetidine) would be an unlikely partner for Maalox. Commenting on industry speculation of a combination Tagamet/Tums product now that SmithKline and Beecham are merged, Thurmond said such a product would have a "dual problem": Tums is an established tablet product, but not an established liquid; and "Tagamet is not by a long stretch of the imagination the best H today." From what Rorer knows, he continued, "formulating the product in an OTC version is a great problem, and Tagamet also suffers another problem -- it tastes lousy. So, they've got a big challenge in front of that." Rorer is balancing the idea of blending Maalox with an existing H antagonist against the possibility of developing its own H/Maalox combo, Thurmond said. Noting that the Maalox brand "has a 99% consumer awareness" he said: "My own question has to be, are we giving away more by lending the Maalox name to an H product than we are getting in return by receiving the H, as opposed to being a year or two late to the market with our own H and retaining 100% ownership of the brand." Asked whether the generic investigation of Bolar may jeopardize Rorer's joint venture with the firm for development of diltiazem products, Thurmond said he did not believe the project would be affected, but noted that Rorer could "go it alone" if necessary. "The impact of whatever may happen [to Bolar] in the future is minimal at best on our diltiazem strategy," Thurmond said. "We entered into the Bolar joint venture primarily to gain access to the toxicology package that they had done on their product . . . and we have the rights to the [that] package. We are preparing the NDA filing essentially with Rorer resources anyway, so we are fully prepared to go it alone if they can't be a good partner."
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