Cold & flu remedies Cough droups & syrups Mutiple vitamins Headache remedies Antacids Laxatives First aid treatment Adhesive bandages REMEDY MAKERS GET RELIEF FROM GELCAPS

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Marketers of cold, cough & flu remedies have caught the liquid gelcap bug.

The easy-to-swallow delivery system is the line extension of choice for Miles, putting $20 million in advertising from Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, and a comprehensive consumer promotion plan behind its new Alka-Seltzer Plus Liqui-Gels this fall.

Others on the liquid gelcap bandwagon include American Home Products' A.H. Robins Co., extending its Robitussin cold & cough liquid-gel line with a cold, cough & flu product this fall. Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, is the agency.

Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Products Co. is adding Tylenol Flu NightTime in gelcap and hot liquid, with ads by Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York.

Liquid gelcaps-which first drew attention last year-are part of a wave of changes hitting the $1.6 billion cold & flu category. For example, Sandoz Consumer Products will launch its Theraflu powder in a non-drowsy caplet form this fall with marketing by Bloom FCA, New York.

But some observers claim the changes in delivery vehicles mask a dearth of new product ideas.

"Last year, we were inundated with new products and companies spending a lot of money," said an executive with a major Northeast supermarket chain. "This year is looking pretty sad. Products are changing formats, but we aren't seeing any breakthroughs like [Procter & Gamble Co.'s] Aleve in the analgesic category."

Bob Donovan, Sandoz corporate VP, agreed. "Private label continues to grow and companies continue to line extend. But there are less entries this year. Either the trade's run out of patience or people have run out of new forms to put things in."

Children's products are getting attention. Warner-Lambert will debut Benadryl Dye-Free for kids, via Bates, and Sandoz is launching a dye-free, non-drowsy version of Triaminic, with ads from Bloom FCA.

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