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After more than a year of skyrocketing growth for newcomer acid blockers and losses for established antacids, the stomach remedies category is starting to settle.

Overall category growth hit 23% for the year ended Oct. 27 but slowed to 16.2% for the year ended Jan. 26, according to Information Resources Inc. Acid blockers also continue to grow, but at a slower pace.

Johnson & Johnson/Merck's Pepcid AC-the first brand to cross over from prescription-was the early leader and remains king of the category with sales of $236.2 million for the year ended Jan. 26.

The second entry, Tagamet HB from SmithKline Beecham, never caught up and showed flat sales of $80.7 million. Tagamet got bumped from its No. 4 slot by continued gains from Warner-Lambert Co.'s Zantac 75, now with $124 million in sales.

Latecomer Axid AR, from American Home Products Corp. and Eli Lilly & Co., was launched last fall and registered sales of $30.1 million with a 2% share.


SmithKline's Tums antacid tenaciously held its own against the acid blockers, staying in second place with a flat $158.7 million in sales.

The rest of the antacids suffered heavy losses-many in the double digits-though Novartis' Maalox has slowed its descent from 14.2% last October to 9.4% on $79 million.

Finding success in its "One minute Maalox" advertising from Grey Advertising, New York, Novartis moved new executions of its $30 million campaign into prime-time TV last week. The campaign, which takes on other antacids as well as acid blockers, started in June.

"We took a pretty big hit on the business when the [acid blockers] came out, and now we're coming back," said Doug Johnson, Maalox brand manager. "We've come to

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