Bayer is seeking over-the-counter status for the new product, and it's expected to be reviewed by a Food & Drug Administration advisory com-mittee Oct. 9.
The brand name has not been disclosed, but the pain reliever is generically known as dexi-buprofen, or S-plus ibuprofen.
MAY AVOID STOMACH PROBLEMS
The new form could avoid causing the stomach problems some consumers experience with ibuprofen and add increased potency.
The stomach problems are part of the war being waged between American Home Products Corp., the marketer of Advil, and Johnson & Johnson Co.'s McNeil Consumer Products unit, mar-keter of Tylenol, an aceta-minophen product, in the $2.7 billion analgesics market.
Industry observers said Bayer's product could significantly affect the flat category-bringing either growth or a realignment.
"If they get the [improved safety] claim, spend enough on marketing and execute it well, in three or four years it could be among the top three analgesics in the U.S.," said Gary Stibel, partner at New England Consulting Group.
ADVIL IS NO. 2
Advil, currently the No. 2 brand in the analgesics catetory behind Tylenol, had sales of $333.4 million for the 12 months ended July 28, according to Information Re-sources Inc., a drop of 2.3%.
The only other ibuprofren in the top five is Pharmacia & Upjohn's fifth-ranked entry, Motrin IB, which saw sales jump 47.5% to $126.8 million.
Dexibuprofen could also be approved without giving Bayer the ability to assert the safer profile in marketing, however. That would leave the company with an undistinguished product in an already crowded field.
The new ketoprofen analgesics hit the market late last year and have had little impact.
Bayer's Actron had sales of just $16.4 million and AHP's Orudis KT hit only $39.5 million, despite first-quarter media spending of $14.7 million and $27.5 million, respectively.
BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles advertising for Bayer's Consumer Care division.