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OTC 123: 1 antacid, 2 active ingredients, 3 years to $200 million expectations

BY DSN STAFF

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. —Merck in April announced that its Zegerid OTC (omeprazole 20-mg/sodium bicarbonate 1,100-mg capsules) solution for frequent heartburn now is available at retail.

Zegerid OTC is the only over-the-counter proton-pump inhibitor product with two active ingredients, combining omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate, which protects the omeprazole in this product from acid in the stomach and allows it to be absorbed.

Zegerid joins a virtual who’s-who list of consumer healthcare companies fielding antacid solutions, and advertising heavily against those solutions. The category-wide prime-time attention already has been credited for driving a significant growth spurt in sales through last year’s holiday season. Since its Nov. 12 launch through Jan. 24, Prevacid 24HR has generated $25.6 million in sales—and cracked the top-10 brand list—across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart), according to the SymphonyIRI Group. Sales of all antacids were up 7.2% in the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24, pulling in $1.2 billion. Prilosec OTC, with $288.5 million in sales, is by far the one antacid SKU with the most dollar share to lose, followed by Zantac 150 ($72.7 million) and Pepcid Complete ($53.9 million).

Zegerid is the third PPI to reach OTC aisles as a switch product, but without nearly the prescription pedigree that both Prilosec and Prevacid carried with them when those brands switched. The potential for PPI saturation and a lack of prelaunch awareness has analysts pegging first-year sales around $100 million for Zegerid OTC. Conversely, Prevacid 24HR is expected to reach more than $200 million in sales in its first year, especially if Novartis executives realize their goal of making Prevacid 24HR a top-five OTC brand.

Zegerid OTC is expected to break the $200 million marker over the next three years.

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Schnucks’ O’Brien to serve on Department of Agriculture advisory committee

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS An executive from Schnuck Markets will serve on an advisory committee of the Department of Agriculture, Schnucks said this week.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Schnucks VP produce and floral Mike O’Brien would be one of 25 people appointed to a two-year term on the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. O’Brien is also vice chairman of the Produce Marketing Association.

 

“I am honred to represent Schnuck Markets and the retail produce industry as a member of this committee,” O’Brien said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference for families across the nation.”

The committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the secretary of agriculture on industry issues related to fruits and vegetables.

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Gilead commences phase 3 trial for single-tablet HIV treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences has started a late-stage clinical trial of an investigational 4-in-1 treatment for HIV, the drug maker said.

Gilead announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial of its “Quad” HIV drug, a single-tablet treatment that combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. The study will compare the Quad regimen with the standard of care among adults with HIV-1 who have not taken antiretroviral treatments. The company is also investigating cobicistat as a standalone boosting agent for antiretroviral drugs.

“We are pleased to announce that the Quad phase 3 clinical program is underway,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said. “Efficacy and safety results from the phase 2 study suggest that the Quad may represent an important new option for patients with HIV.”

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