HEALTH

P&G challenges Schering Plough’s claim on proton-pump inhibitor

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble last month challenged Schering Plough’s ability to market its pending switch of the proton-pump inhibitor Zegerid as “immediate release,” arguing that the term is likely to be confused with “immediate relief” among lay consumers.

“Consumers, without the benefit of physician supervision, will likely interpret ‘immediate release’ as synonymous with ‘immediate relief,’” P&G argued in a Nov. 17 Citizen’s Petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration. “Not only do ‘release’ and ‘relief’ sound strikingly alike, but they have similar implications to consumers in the OTC drug context.”

In support of its Citizen’s Petition, P&G commissioned an online survey of 1,000 consumers, including 214 who were identified as frequent heartburn sufferers. As many as 65 percent of those frequent sufferers associated “immediate release” with speed of relief, P&G said. As many as 74 percent of the frequent sufferers indicated they would prefer an immediate release product over a delayed release product, suggesting that the majority of consumers may choose a Zegerid OTC product touting “immediate release” over Prilosec OTC or store brand omeprazole if Zegerid is approved for sale over-the-counter.

More than 89 percent of those frequent sufferers expected any “immediate release” product to provide symptomatic relief within 30 minutes.

Zegerid contains sodium bicarbonate in addition to the PPI omeprazole, which Santarus claims helps neutralize stomach acid and speeds absorption of the omeprazole within 30 minutes. However, P&G challenges that even with speedier absorption, the omeprazole active could take between one and four days before providing symptomatic heartburn relief. When Prilosec OTC was approved for switch, P&G noted, FDA required the marketer to include in its labeling: “Not intended for immediate relief of heartburn; this drug may take 1 to 4 days for full effect.”

On zegerid.com, Santarus claims: “Except for Zegerid, all proton pump inhibitors are delayed-release acid reflux drugs. Delayed-release proton pump inhibitors use a coating, called an enteric coating, to protect the acid reflux medicine from acid degradation while passing through the stomach. This coating delays the acid reflux medicine from getting into the bloodstream. Zegerid does not have an enteric coating and the acid reflux medicine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. That’s why Zegerid is the first and only immediate-release oral proton pump inhibitor.”

Approximately 276,000 prescriptions for Zegerid were filled in the third quarter of 2008, Santarus reported, an increase of 20 percent versus total prescriptions in the year-ago period. That corresponded to sales of $28.1 million for the quarter, up 44 percent.

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GSI Commerce, GNC agree to extend e-commerce partnership

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH, Pa. GSI Commerce and GNC on Tuesday announced a multiyear extension and expansion of the e-commerce agreement between the two companies. Under the agreement, which runs through 2017, GSI will continue to provide GNC’s online store with e-commerce technology, order management and customer care operations.

“Since partnering with GSI, our online business has become an important channel for both product sales and information,” said Beth Kaplan, president and chief merchandising and marketing officer for GNC. “We are excited about extending our e-commerce agreement with GSI and expanding our relationship to include interactive marketing services.”

In addition to e-commerce services, the agreement names GSI’s digital agency, gsi interactive, as GNC’s digital agency of record and adds a full complement of marketing services that include site usability testing, paid search marketing, comparison shopping engines, affiliate marketing, display advertising, emerging media, and e-mail services powered by e-Dialog, GSI’s e-mail marketing subsidiary.

“We are very happy that GNC will continue to build its online business with GSI as its e-commerce partner,” said Scott Hardy, executive vice president of business management for GSI. “This long-term, multiyear, and expanded agreement speaks to the success of the relationship and to the opportunity in front of us for continued growth.”

GNC launched its online store on GSI’s e-commerce platform in the fourth quarter of 2005. Online sales have since become an important channel for GNC as well as a valuable extension of its brand, the company stated.

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Forbes names Home Diagnostics one of its 200 best small businesses

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Home Diagnostics on Tuesday announced that it was named one of Forbes magazine’s “200 Best Small Companies” in the October 27 issue of that publication, which makes for HDI’s debut on the Forbes list.

“Being recognized by Forbes as one of the nation’s best small companies is a testament to the success of Home Diagnostics’ growth strategy,” stated Richard Damron, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Home Diagnostics. “National pharmacy chains, distributors and mail service providers trust our blood glucose monitoring systems to represent their own brands because we offer high-performance products at a significant cost savings to their diabetic customers. Our ability to capitalize on our unique distribution model and gain market share with competitive price points positions Home Diagnostics as a strong player in a growing $7 billion diabetes testing supplies market.”

“The Forbes list of the 200 Best Small Companies seeks to identify the strongest public companies with sales under $750 million,” said Kurt Badenhausen associate editor at Forbes. “These firms all have reasonable debt burdens and have had solid sales and earnings growth over the past five years.”

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