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IN THE CAR RENTAL WARS, Avis' tagline of "We try harder" makes no bones about admitting it's second in the marketplace to Hertz. Merck & Co.'s cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor could say the same thing, running second to Pfizer blockbuster Lipitor in worldwide sales, but Zocor keeps re-inventing itself.

Perhaps the first pharmaceutical company to incorporate the sports world when it landed Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves several years ago, Merck has used its philosophy as a science-based company to further the effectiveness of its drugs.

The latest campaign from Ogilvy Healthcare, a unit of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, features the outcomes of the largest clinical trial done with a cholesterol-lowering medicine. The study by Oxford University showed Zocor 40 mg was effective in lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke-regardless of a person's cholesterol level.

Leading the charge is Deepak Khanna, who spearheads the marketing efforts for a product that generated $5.6 billion in U.S. sales last year, second in the category only to Lipitor's $7 billion. Mr. Khanna, as VP-atherosclerosis franchise business group, manages Zocor's business, profit and promotional plans, as well as managing of the U.S. Marketing Team.

Mr. Khanna began his career at Merck in 1988 in field sales, and progressed to positions of increasing responsibility within the U.S. Human Health Division. In all likelihood, he will oversee the next generation of the drug-the combo Zocor-Zetia, which should hit the market in 2005.

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