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Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. licensed the one-dose formulation of its Vagistat-1 brand to Johnson & Johnson's market-leading Monistat line in an effort to save the ailing business. But the move is raising questions about Vagistat-1's continued viability.

Last week, J&J launched an approximately $30 million campaign for Monistat-1, using model Kim Alexis, from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.


It's a real change for that brand, since the advertising says doctors know that one dose keeps working for days; an earlier campaign for the brand, before the licensing of the technology, said doctors know you can't cure a yeast infection in one day. A supporting print campaign bows later this summer.

Terms of Bristol-Myers' four-year agreement with J&J were undisclosed.

"We saw an opportunity to expand the one-dose segment and help give women greater access to it, as well as helping retailers and our company. We think Monistat-1 will get heavy spending behind it and attract many users," a Bristol spokeswoman said.

Vagistat-1 has been the only one-dose treatment in the market since Bristol-Myers launched it over-the-counter in February 1997. The company put $25.9 million in media behind it last year, but completely dropped support this year and has no further ad plans.

Despite the one-dose advantage, the Bristol-Myers brand didn't exceed the sales of other products. Vagistat-1 had $30.6 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended March 29, according to Information Resources Inc., behind Roche Laboratories' Femstat-3 (marketed by Bayer Corp.), at $33.1 million; and Monistat-7's $54 million and Monistat-3's $62.6 million.


Ben Ball, executive director of consultancy Dechert & Hampe, said he'd be "surprised if Vagistat stays on the market . . . Everyone's going to read this handwriting" of giving over the technology, especially with no ad support.

Bristol-Myers said it has no intention of pulling Vagistat.

Bayer's Femstat, also having difficulty in the marketplace, received $24.2 million in media support last year, via BBDO Worldwide, New York. But there has been little spending on the brand this year.

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