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National marketers are scrambling to introduce more pediatric formulas to meet children's specific cough/cold needs, the one bright spot that surfaced last year in the stagnant $2.43 billion market for cough, cold, allergy and sinus products.

A milder-than-average winter in much of the country depressed sales in the category by 1.4% in 1994, according to Information Resources Inc. Media spending declined as well, by 1.7% to $493.5 million for the category.

Yet during this same period sales of children's remedies climbed 8.9% to $187 million, according to an IRI three-outlet survey that broke the market into $148 million for cold remedies, up 6.9%, and $39 million for allergies, up 17.5%.

By mid-1995, sales of children's remedies had helped stimulate category sales of $2.54 billion, up 4.5% from the similar period ending in '94, according to IRI.

Warner Wellcome, a division of Warner-Lambert, early this year brought to market grape-flavored Benadryl allergy formula chewable tablets. Last month, Warner Wellcome began shipping three new versions of Children's Sudafed, including a grape-flavored single-ingredient nasal decongestant; a three-ingredient cough/cold remedy in cherry-berry flavor, and Pediatric Sudafed nasal decongestant in a fruit-flavored, dye-free drops formula.

A $7 million ad campaign will break for Sudafed in October.

Warner-Lambert also will introduce this fall Halls Juniors fruit-flavored cough drops, the first Halls drops for children.

A.H. Robins division of American Home Products Corp. this fall launches Robitussin pediatric drops, a berry-flavored nasal decongestant, cough suppressant and expectorant. It is said to be the only cough/cold remedy for children that comes packaged with an oral syringe for accurate dosing.

Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corp., whose sales of Triaminic pediatric cough/cold products dropped 0.5% to $52 million in '94, added grape-flavored oral decongestant drops to the line this year. A $12 million ad campaign is expected to support Triaminic, whose sales decline in '94 is credited to the encroachment of private labels.

Weather aside, private label is giving the industry fits. Store brands claimed 18.8% of the market by midyear, according to IRI. The closest branded competitor is Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Products' Tylenol cough/cold remedies, at an 8.9% share.

"Private label has achieved category leadership because there's really no brand leader; it's too highly segmented," notes Jerry Cutler, marketing director, Ciba Consumer Pharmaceuticals.

Private label is believed to be behind the move this March by Procter & Gamble Co. to slash by an average 23% its wholesale prices for adult NyQuil and DayQuil products. P&G also said it would eliminate the outer packaging for all its adult cough/cold remedies, including NyQuil, DayQuil and Formula 44.

Lower-priced clones in 1994 supplanted NyQuil as the perennial leader in the liquid segment. The brand suffered an 11.2% decline in sales, according to IRI. Media spending also fled the brand, declining nearly 40% to $25 million.

One of the newer entries to make a dent in the market is Ciba's Efidac/24, the first and only 24-hour decongestant. It's one of few new products that doesn't have a previous life as a prescription remedy. Introduced in '94, it had won a 3.6% share in the cough/cold category by mid-1995, IRI reports. Efidac received more than $27 million in measured media support in '94.

Bayer Corp. is spending much of a planned $63 million in the 1995-96 cough/cold season backing Alka-Seltzer Plus Flu & Body Aches, in both liquid-gel and lemon effervescent tablet forms.

Bayer also is considering an Alka-Seltzer Plus entry in the children's market.

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