PHARMACIA ADS FOR STRONGER ROGAINE MAY REACH $50 MIL: OTC EXTENSION AWAITS FINAL FDA APPROVAL; BOASTS IMPROVED RESULTS

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With potential new sales opened up for its Rogaine hair regrowth brand, Pharmacia & Upjohn plans to spend heavily to promote an Extra Strength for Men version, nearing full government approval.

Once approved, the faster version of the over-the-counter Rogaine may get as much as $50 million in media ad support through Grey Advertising, New York. The 5% minoxidil version received initial approval from Food & Drug Administration advisory committees last week.

'TREMENDOUS SUPPORT'

"It's safe to say there will be tremendous support behind the [Extra Strength] introduction," said a Pharmacia spokesman.

Research showed Extra Strength will grow up to 46% more hair than the regular version, Pharmacia said, and regrowth will begin at eight weeks instead of 16. Those differences are likely to appear in ads by yearend.

The test results are a significant improvement over Rogaine with 2% minoxidil, which has suffered from efficacy issues.

Media spending for Extra Strength is expected to represent a shift from support for the regular version, which will remain on the market. That product received $56.8 million in media advertising in 1996, via Grey.

New ads broke this past spring featuring actual male and female users of the product who were selected through a national competition (AA, April 28).

PROTECTION FROM GENERICS

An important designation Pharmacia seeks from the FDA is three-year patent protection from generics, a battle it lost when 2% crossed OTC in April 1996.

Pharmacia initially sought prescription approval for the 5% version, approved last December. But the company shifted gears and applied for OTC status in February.

Extra Strength will be sold at a premium price, a possible marketing disadvantage, said Paul Kelly, president of Silvermine Consulting.

"They're trying to market it like aspirin, but the price point is like a prescription drug and stores keep it behind the counter" due to theft, Mr. Kelly

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