ROGAINE PR BLITZ PLANNED USING SATISFIED CUSTOMERS: POTENTIAL USERS WANT TO HEAR FROM PATIENTS WHO HAVE TRIED TREATMENT

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Pharmacia & Upjohn is recruiting a small battalion of people to talk to the press and appear in ads supporting Rogaine, the hair regrowth drug that has suffered from efficacy problems.

Pharmacia sent 120 letters to members of its database, composed of users who returned cards included in Rogaine packaging. The company will fly 100 users to New York in early June and will then select media-friendly customers for local press interviews and to appear in "regular guy" testimonials for new advertising.

CLAIMS WERE DOWNGRADED

When Rogaine received Food & Drug Administration approval to cross over-the-counter in February 1996, the regulatory agency reduced the claims Pharmacia could make, from a 48% "moderate or better" hair growth from when it was prescription down to 26% OTC.

"Men were asking us, 'Does this really work?' and they didn't want to hear from our staff or scientists," said Richard Spangler, director of marketing for Rogaine. "We're not going to be restricting what people have to say, we want broad stories. The key word, of course, is that they're satisfied."

Pharmacia continues to funnel heavy ad support into Rogaine- $56.8 million in measured media last year.

The new effort is a follow-up to advertising using Mark Dressel, an assistant account exec at Elkman Advertising, Bala-Cynwyd, Pa., that began running a few months ago.

Grey Advertising, New York, is the Rogaine agency.

U.S. sales totaled $118.4 million for the year ended March 2, while generics-approved by FDA along with Rogaine going OTC-hit $29 million, according to Information Resources Inc.

PR IS UNDERUSED

"In general, PR for OTC products is underused, and we're going to see more and more brands do it in the future-if you have a message that's newsworthy," said Tom Chetrick, senior consultant for NCI Consulting. "Media costs keep going up above the rate of inflation."

Last week, Pharmacia also announced an agreement with Time Inc. for a custom publishing, direct-mail effort involving 28-page quarterlies called Men's Living

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