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Executive Summary

ZOVIRAX DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER AD ACCOUNT AWARDED TO VICOM/FCB by Burroughs-Wellcome, the agency announced on Dec. 1. The agency assignment to VICOM's new consumer division, the OTx Group, marks the initial foray into consumer advertising for the prescription antiviral Zovirax (acyclovir). The "primary task" of the OTx group will be to "develop direct-to-consumer advertising for Zovirax prior to its potential switch to OTC status," the New York-based agency explained. Consumer advertising for Zovirax is expected to debut during the first half of 1994, the agency said. Consumer advertising for the antiviral for genital herpes will include print ads, and the OTx Group said it plans to explore the feasibility of television commercials. The consumer-directed ads will have an educational theme, focusing on proper diagnosis of genital herpes and encouraging visits to the doctor, the agency explained. The ad agency indicated that one aim of the ads will be to help reduce the stigma attached to the sexually-transmitted disease, which can deter patients from seeking treatment from a physician. Antiviral Drug Products Division Medical Officer Heidi Jolson, NM, told physicians attending the October Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy that patient education programs will be pivotal to the switch of Zovirax ("The Pink Sheet" Oct. 25, T&G-10). Burroughs Wellcome Senior Clinical Research Scientist Gray Davis, MD, reported that the company was already considering different ways of presenting educational materials to consumers. Burroughs Wellcome submitted its application in August for an Rx-to-OTC switch of oral Zovirax for use in the management of recurrent genital herpes. The proposed OTC dosage regimen of two 200 mg tablets twice daily is the same as the current prescription maintenance dose. OTC Zovirax will be marketed by Warner-Wellcome, a joint venture between Warner-Lambert and Burroughs Wellcome announced in July ("The Pink Sheet" Aug. 2, p. 10). Although the day-to-day operations and marketing decisions will be determined by Warner- Lambert under the agreement, the drug firm said that advertising arrangements formalized before the joint venture becomes operational will stand. VICOM announced the formation of the OTx Group in January; the Zovirax account is the division's second. The agency also is directing an educational print campaign for Merck on how to control cholesterol with diet and exercise in several targeted cities. VICOM handles professional advertising for Merck's prescription anticholesterol drugs Mevacor (lovastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin). New York-based Kallir, Philips, Ross, which currently handles professional advertising for Zovirax, also recently added a division focusing on consumer advertising. In February, KPR said it planned to develop its in-house direct-to-consumer capabilities by increasing the staff of the consumer division and moving into consumer marketing of OTCs.

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