ALZA DTC ADS FOR DITROPAN TO BATTLE PHARMACIA RIVAL: WOMEN TARGET OF NEW DRUG FOR BLADDER CONTROL

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Alza Corp.'s new ad campaign for its overactive bladder prescription product, Ditropan XL, aims to encourage sufferers not to accept their problem sitting down.

In a national print and TV campaign starting June 13, Alza uses shots of active women to persuade sufferers to feel more comfortable with their problem and seek help.

"The focus of our campaign is to let people know that overactive bladder is not a normal part of aging," said Pete Smith, senior product manager for Ditropan XL. "And that they're not alone -- other people have the problem. It's not something people have to be embarrassed about."

Ditropan XL, touted as the only once-daily medication for treating an overactive bladder, received FDA approval in December and went on the market in February.

AVOIDING AN ACCIDENT

The campaign from Rubin Ehrenthal & Associates, New York, targets women 50 and older. The tagline: "An overactive bladder can be an accident waiting to happen."

The 60-second TV spot features a series of visuals of women hiking, going to the grocery store, playing golf and spending time with their husbands.

"We're showing the patients that they can become free and do what they want with the prescription and not feel constrained," said Herb Ehrenthal, president of Rubin Ehrenthal.

The print effort breaks in a women's health supplement in The New York Times and will run in magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Reader's Digest and Prevention. The TV spot will appear on broadcast and cable networks. Spending was not disclosed.

DESTIGMATIZING THE PROBLEM

By trying to destigmatize the problem of overactive bladder and hoping that will lead to increased sales, Alza is following a strategy employed by competitor Pharmacia & Upjohn last year. Pharmacia launched unbranded ads for its competing product, Detrol, and then followed that up with a branded campaign earlier this year.

Pharmacia spent a total $28 million to promote the drug last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Detrol is the market leader; it was launched in April 1998 and has tallied $165 million in sales. Ditropan XL recorded $22 million in sales in its first two months on the market.

"It will be a market battle," said Herman Saftlas, an analyst with S&P Equity Group. "Certainly it'll be an uphill fight for Ditropan. On the other hand, I think Ditropan will make progress considering its strong showing in clinical

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