P&G Says Market Share Hits More Than 20%

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CINCINNATI ( -- Despite losing a round in court and facing a growing array of attack ads by competitors, heartburn drug Prilosec OTC has achieved market share of more than 20% and leadership in the antacid category in its first five weeks, the drug's marketer, Procter & Gamble Co., said yesterday.

P&G Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley, who wore a

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purple shirt and tie to P&G's annual meeting in honor of the purple-hued Prilosec's over-the-counter launch, said in a press conference before the event that Prilosec is off to a good start, but he added, "I don't think we'll know how big we'll be for another three to six months."

First-year sales
Prilosec's directions call for users to take the drug for 14 days, then not again for four months. P&G has projected first-year sales of Prilosec OTC, which it markets under license from AstraZeneca, at $200 million to $400 million.

Advertising for Prilosec OTC is handled by Publicis Worldwide, New York.

The U.S. District Court in New York last month ordered P&G to modify its advertising and promotion for Prilosec to make clearer the drug is intended for use over several days, after Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co., who jointly market Pepcid AC, claimed initial advertising was misleading.

In recent weeks, both Pepcid and GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Tums, have launched ads comparing their products' more immediate relief to Prilosec OTC's extended dosing.

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