Grey, Jordan dueling for Colestid

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Pharmacia & Upjohn may not win over-the-counter approval for cholesterol treatment Colestid until next year, but it's close to picking an agency to handle the brand's $20 million to $25 million consumer account.

Grey Advertising and Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, both New York, and W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich., are vying for the business. Pharmacia said its decision could come as early as mid-July.

Lowe McAdams Healthcare, a unit of Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, handles professional advertising for the 10-year-old prescription version but is no longer a contender for the OTC business.

Colestid was submitted to the Food & Drug Administration for switch approval in 1994 but may not receive clearance until late next year.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s cholesterol treatment Questran, which had a second FDA advisory committee review in May, is expected to reach the OTC market first.

"Because these products have seen better days as prescription drugs, [OTC] is a real opportunity for them to get a new day in the sun," said Sue Coleman, president of NCI Consulting. "It's a potential blockbuster category--it used to be that prevention was impossible to market against, but Pepcid AC has belied that."

The U.S. prescription cholesterol-reducer market rose 25.7% in 1996, according to IMS America, to $2.85 billion.

Merck & Co.'s Zocor has the biggest share of the market, with $1 billion in 1996 sales. Zocor was supported by a hefty $40.8 million in direct-to-consumer media, according to Competitive Media Reporting, via Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Zocor is one of a growing number of prescription drug brands advertised on TV.

No. 2 brand Mevacor, also from Merck, had $791.9 million in sales, followed by Bristol-Myers' Pravachol with $564.7 million. While Mevacor lost DTC support in 1996 with the launch of Zocor, Pravachol received $21.3 million last year from Bozell Wellness Worldwide, New York.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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