Pfizer returns to consumer care with Wyeth buy
NEW YORK What’s really intriguing behind the return of a consumer division to Pfizer is the fact that two of its flagship pharmaceuticals — Lipitor and Viagra — are approaching patent expiration, and both have been suggested as possible Rx-to-OTC switch candidates by Kline & Co.
Why Lipitor might hit the switch sweet-spot: Of all the statins, Lipitor certainly looms largest, and a lot of that has to do with the greater perceived efficacy achieved through Pfizer’s statin (second only to Crestor, according to the Johns Hopkins Medical Letter). Pfizer also will benefit from the experiences of four prior statin switch applications, all of which failed on some level with failed actual use studies. In addition, while there is no class of behind-the-counter drugs, there certainly is precedent for OTC marketing agreements that place a drug behind the pharmacy counter — the emergency contraceptive Plan B, for example. That opens the door to a marketing agreement that would facilitate a pharmacy consultation as a prevention against possible consumer misuse. Though, to be clear, Pfizer has never indicated such a possibility in switching Lipitor.
Why Viagra might hit the switch sweet-spot: While certainly a long-shot in a society where the switch of an emergency contraceptive became a political hot potato, and advertisements around the use of condoms as pleasure enhancement, as opposed to their STD-prevention qualities, are not likely to ever see the light of network prime time, Viagra was sold on a test-market basis in the United Kingdom as a behind-the-counter offering, which requires a pharmacist consultation. If Pfizer can figure out how to open the door around a defacto BTC class of drugs with Lipitor, Viagra isn’t such a stretch after that.
Beyond possible Rx-to-OTC switch scenarios, the other impact to this deal is in marketing synergy. In 2007, Pfizer and Wyeth together spent more than $2.3 billion on marketing, according to Advertising Age. While the new ad budget likely will be less than that, they’ll still be able to generate more traction with the media they do buy, given the greater buying power of the combined companies.
Walgreens relaunches Health Corner Web site
MILWAUKEE Walgreens unveiled Thursday the new and improved Healthcornertv.com, an innovative, easy-to-browse Web site with more than 1,200 videos on 65 health-and-wellness topics.
The new Web site presents health-and-wellness information through the use of high quality videos featuring real people managing common medical conditions. Healthcare experts share valuable tips and advice for maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.
“What sets Healthcornertv.com apart from other online resources is the compelling, engaging way it presents the most current, relevant health-and-wellness information,” says Connie Splitt, Walgreens media production manager, and director of the new Web site’s content. “The videos and tools offer a more user-friendly alternative to endless articles and research. The site was designed to empower and inspire people to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.”
Healthcornertv.com videos span a broad range of topics from acne, allergies and Alzheimer’s to heart disease, diabetes and beyond. In addition to management and treatment, a major focus of the site is prevention and lifestyle, with hundreds of features on cooking with functional foods, fitness and exercise.
Celebrity interviews are also featured, including Sally Field on osteoporosis, Suzanne Somers on anti-aging, Jamie Lee Curtis on gastrointestinal health and Patti Labelle on diabetes. The Web site also offers quick links to other valuable online resources including the latest research findings from the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health and many more.
Healthcornertv.com is a companion to and extension of the Health Corner television series, sponsored by Walgreens, now in its sixth season airing on Lifetime.
Health Corner, “America’s Healthiest TV Show”, airs Sunday mornings at 9:30 Eastern and Pacific time, 8:30 Central and 10:30 Mountain time on Lifetime Television. A total of 26 episodes per season are produced by Milwaukee-based Marx Creative.
NIH announces government-sponsored clinical trial of H1N1 vaccine
NEW YORK There still is widespread concern over the safety and efficacy of the new H1N1 influenza vaccine, despite public assurances from executives at the highest levels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the point agency around the H1N1 pandemic — that the H1N1 vaccines have been subject to the same safety and efficacy protocols as seasonal vaccine, which generally is considered both safe and effective.
And the clinical trials that have been published to date show that the H1N1 vaccine, at the 15-microgram dose, works, even among children. Sanofi Pasteur late last week announced that clinical trials of its H1N1 vaccine in infants and children ages 6 months through 9 years was efficacious and only required one dose.
The NIH trial, though, is specifically exploring whether or not a 15-microgram dose provides adequate protection against asthmatics, or people with other upper respiratory chronic diseases, one of the high-priority groups identified by CDC for H1N1 influenza inoculation and a disease-state that may place sufferers at greater risk of complications from influenza. According to the American Lung Association, 7.6 million people in America have been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis; 3.7 million Americans will develop emphysema over the course of their lifetime; 6.7 million children have been diagnosed with pediatric asthma; and 8.4% of all adults report having adult asthma.
It’s important also because the prevalence of H1N1 influenza remains higher than expected influenza levels for this time of year and continues to be on the rise, even this early into the season.
Two weeks ago, a total of 37 states reported widespread influenza activity (which means that more than half of the counties have reported influenza activity)— only Washington, D.C., Hawaii and Vermont reported less than regional influenza activity (regional activity is more than one, but less than half of all counties have reported influenza activity; less than regional activity means only one county has reported influenza activity).