Sales of OTC nasal sprays fell 8.8% to $214.9 million for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 23, according to Information Resources Inc. Sales of former top seller Afrin, marketed by Schering-Plough Corp., declined 16.5% to $56.4 million, which put private-label products in the No. 1 position.
Afrin was supported with about $3.7 million in advertising last year via Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York.
RX COMES ON STRONG
The problem for the OTC brands has been intense activity on the prescription side, which rose 27% in 1996, according to IMS America, to $723.8 million. Glaxo Wellcome's Flonase surged 69% to $159.9 million, and now controls 72% of the Rx nasal spray segment.
Glaxo spent heavily on the brand in direct-to-consumer ads from Grey Advertising, New York, with Flonase getting $32.8 million in media advertising last year.
"It's a very crowded category, not only OTC but Rx as well," said Tom Lom, co-managing director at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising's Healthcare Connection, agency for new Nasalcrom. "The allergy category has notoriously undersatisfied consumers."
The Nasalcrom campaign stresses prevention-as well as treatment-of nasal congestion.
Network TV spots carrying the tag "Keep allergies away with Nasalcrom spray" broke last week; print hits later this month.
The campaign will run through the fall allergy season.
Nasalcrom, a prescription product since 1983, was approved by the Food & Drug Administration for OTC sale in January. It will likely be followed by other crossovers, including Schering-Plough's Vancenase brand.