Potential Marketing of Daily-Dose Cialis Draws Critics' Ire

Commercial Alert, Others Concerned About Ads for Latest Version of ED Drug

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- A Cialis a day keeps impotence away.

That potential marketing message is already getting a rise out of critics who label erectile-dysfunction medications "recreational" drugs, as the makers of Cialis prepare to ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve marketing of a daily-dose version of the brand.

Cialis, co-marketed by Eli Lilly and Icos Corp. under the name Lilly Icos, has submitted a regulatory filing for marketing approval to the European Medicines Agency for the once-a-day dosage and plans later this year to file for approval in the U.S. in hopes of launching daily Cialis by late 2007.

Concern about ads' racy tones
Of major concern is how a daily form of Cialis will be advertised, since ED drugs have been the catalyst for a DTC rebellion that has taken place as critic assail some of the ads' racy tones. Cialis and its ED brethren, Viagra and Levitra, all scaled back advertising in 2005 before re-emerging earlier this year with an increased emphasis on ED as a medical condition. Still, some of the ads for Cialis, from WPP Group's Grey Worldwide, continue to feature the iconic image of a man and a woman in side-by-side bathtubs.

"It's been obvious for a while that this is just an effort to market a lifestyle," said Gary Ruskin, director of the Portland, Ore.-based group Commercial Alert, which has called for a ban on all drug advertising. "This is one step further along those lines. It's a continuation of their marketing strategy and the logical arc of their marketing strategy."

'An important segment'
Paul Clark, CEO of Icos, said in a teleconference that a once-a-day Cialis would "appeal to an important segment of the patient population -- the man in his 40s or 50s who takes a PDE5 inhibitor more frequently than average."

Cialis is offered in 5-, 10- and 20-milligram doses when used "on demand." Daily dosages would be in 2.5- or 5-milligram form only.

Mr. Clark said he also believed a daily form of the medication would drive earnings for the companies. Though still a long way behind Pfizer's Viagra in the category, Cialis is a solid No. 2 and had worldwide sales of $747 million last year, up more than 35% from 2004.

However, Merrill Lynch analyst Eric Ende wrote in a report: "We do not believe sales will rise as a result of the new dosing regimen."

'Serious medical condition'
Eli Lilly spokeswoman Kindra Strupp said a daily dose is just an extension of what Cialis already offers ED patients. "ED is a serious medical condition. It's a chronic thing you just don't get rid of," she said. "Men who have this are likely to have other conditions. So once-a-day is no different. It just offers that segment of the population -- men who engage in sex more frequently -- this daily dosage option."

But Dr. Dan Salvas, a sexual-medicine specialist for Urology of Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star that a once-daily version of Cialis is "really a recreational drug," and said most of his patients "don't have sex often enough to warrant it, to be honest with you."
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