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Just as Pharmacia & Upjohn is about to finally leave its generic competition behind with newly approved Rogaine Extra Strength, Merck & Co.'s Propecia is nearing approval.

The Food & Drug Administration approved the 5% over-the-counter version of Rogaine on Nov. 17, while around the same time an FDA advisory committee moved once-a-day pill Propecia -- also for men only -- closer to prescription drug approval.

Pharmacia will funnel $80 million into marketing for the new version of Rogaine with an estimated $60 million ad campaign breaking in January from Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York.

The campaign emphasizes the 5% formula's benefits: stronger and twice as fast to produce results vs. 2% minoxidil.

A smaller campaign behind the 2% version for women, who now make up 25% of sales, will break along with the 5% campaign for men.


Also, Pharmacia is exploring the first ad effort behind Progaine, its non-drug shampoo and conditioner line.

"The growth in the brand is justified with additional ad spending," said Richard Spangler, Pharmacia director of marketing.

He added that while the company's primary focus is still consumer advertising, Pharmacia also is "dramatically increasing" its education effort to doctors for 5% Rogaine.

Meanwhile, Merck's Propecia -- with a potential 85% efficacy rate -- could get $50 million to $60 million in 1998 support via Y&R Advertising. The pharmaceutical maker declined to comment on marketing plans prior to drug approval.

Full approval could come by early 1998, though the company may have difficulty claiming it "prevents hair loss."


Propecia's active ingredient, finasteride, is a weaker version of Merck's prostate treatment, Proscar. That successful drug logged sales of $118.7 million for the year ended September 1996, down 14% from a year earlier, according to IMS America.

Rogaine sales were flat at $84.9 million for the year ended Oct. 12, according to Information Resources Inc. It had a 58.6% share of the $144.8 million hair growth category. Private-label versions already hold more than 35% of the

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