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Glaxo Wellcome is launching a general education campaign about HIV, targeting gays, African-Americans and Hispanics, even as rival pharmaceutical marketers opt to promote specific brands of HIV-related products.

The estimated $2 million-to-$5 million campaign from FCB HealthCare, New York, does not tout Glaxo's Retrovir and Epivir, well-known by the names AZT and 3TC, respectively.


"It's probably the first `get treated' message, since there hasn't been enough research previously," said Cari Weisber, senior VP-creative director at FCB. "There have been lots of `get tested' messages. The objective of our campaign is to communicate as much as we can about these new findings and combined therapies."

The two-phase, multimedia effort, featuring HIV-positive persons, begins this month. The ad vaguely refers to "new treatment options" but alludes to news reports of drug cocktails that combine Glaxo's drugs with a new drug class called protease inhibitors."


Advertising medical news is becoming more common in over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer prescription drug adver

tising. For example, Bayer aspirin, via BBDO Worldwide, leveraged new findings about aspirin and heart attacks this year to send consumers to their doctors. However, the Food & Drug Administration has set many limitations on such ads.

The Glaxo ads-which picture a hugging gay couple, among others-appear in national gay media and 12 local gay newspapers for the first phase through December.

Early next year, radio, outdoor and special theater performances will be added for the African-American and Hispanic communities in 18 cities.

Sales of Retrovir grew 11.4% to $138.3 million in 1995. Epivir was introduced in November 1995; sales reached $9.9 million by the end of that year, according to IMS America.

Glaxo is trying to win back users who have tried Retrovir with mixed results.

"There is some AZT baggage," Ms. Weisber said. "AZT used to be given in much higher dosages, and the side effects were wretched."


Reid Saleeby, associate product manager for HIV marketing at Glaxo, said that at least 30% "of people who are aware of their status are not on antiviral therapy. Heretofore, many people who've tried it couldn't tolerate it."

Consumer advertising of HIV and HIV-related products has only recently become a common sight in gay media as new drugs become available, such as Roche Labs' Cytovene and Invirase, a protease inhibitor, and Roxane's Viramune and Marinol.

Agouron Pharmaceuticals is running an ad, from Torre Renta Lazur, Parsippany, N.J., for trials of Viracept, a new protease inhibitor that is not yet approved by the FDA for sale.

Other newcomers include SmithKline Beecham's OraSure saliva-based prescription HIV test and HIV home test kits from Johnson & Johnson, under the Confide brand, and Home Access Health.

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