J&J'S URISTAT AIMS TO PUSH CATEGORY GROWTH

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Capitalizing on its name and distribution power in women's healthcare, Johnson & Johnson's Advanced Care Products division hopes to double or triple the small but growing over-the-counter market for urinary infection treatments with new Uristat.

McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, which already handles J&J's Monistat line for yeast infections, will launch an estimated $3 million-to-$5 million campaign for the new analgesic in June; professional support comes from NCI Advertising, New York.

J&J will give Uristat's official June 18 launch a twist, holding it at a New York comedy club with comic Susie Essman.

According to J&J, 26 million women annually face urinary infections, though few men do.

OTC GROWTH

The approximately $40 million category is divided between a flat prescription market and growing OTC sales, dominated by regional brands. The OTC category jumped from $2.7 million in 1993 to $10.5 million last year, according to PolyMedica Healthcare. For the year ended April 21, that marketer had $6.1 million in sales on its Azo-Standard brand, according to Information Resources Inc.

A better-known name on the prescription side, Pyridium from Warner-Lambert Co.'s Parke-Davis, had sales of just $4 million last year. Generics dominate an estimated $30 million in prescription sales.

The J&J sales force is reportedly saying Uristat will double or triple the OTC category. The product, to cost $5 to $6 for 12 tablets, will be shelved next to J&J's Monistat line with copy on the Uristat package saying, "From the makers of Monistat."

PolyMedica welcomes the marketing giant's entry.

"I expect they will draw much more attention to the category," said Mike Edmonds, PolyMedica national sales manager. "We'll probably lose share but our business will probably triple."

Because a common treatment for symptoms is drinking cranberry juice, PolyMedica launched an all-natural powdered cranberry product, Azo-Cranberry, in February 1995. The company spends about $1 million annually advertising its line, with ads created in-house and media placement handled by Reed Group, Woburn, Mass.

MONISTAT-3 ROLLING OUT

J&J also is rolling national with newly approved Monistat-3; ads from McCann broke late last month. Spending will be competitive at $25 million.

That comes just in time to defend against newcomer Procter & Gamble Co.'s Femstat-3, which offers treatment of yeast infections in less than half the time of Monistat-7. A $25 million campaign for Femstat-3, from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, started March 31.

IRI reports that the overall vaginal anti-fungal category dropped 6.4%, to $233.3 million for the year ended May 26.

Monistat-7 fell 6.8% to $112.9 million and 48.4% share and Femstat-3 reached a 4% share with $9.3 million in sales.

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