St. Joseph Aspirin Poised to Reenter Market -- Off the Shelves for Years, the Familiar Chewable Tabs Will Now Be Targeted at Older Adults With Heart Problems

NEW YORK – The original St. Joseph chew… Only this time Schering Plough Healthcare Products is breaking with tradition. It is now positioning the orange-flavored pain relievers exclusively for adult sufferers of heart conditions, instead of its target throughout its history, young children.
The Liberty-Corner, N.J. pharmaceutical company will launch a $6 million marketing campaign that will kick off in July with 35-cent instant redeemable coupons at retail. Local and national radio spots will air from September through January. National freestanding inserts (FSI) coupon drops will break in October. Print advertising will follow in January and February. Buy-one-get-one free and 25-cent-coupons via samples will support the repositioning as well as rebates and year-round professional support in the medical community and public relations promotions. The ad agency for St. Joseph is Warwick Baker & Fiore in New York.
The orange-flavored chewable aspirins – introduced to carve out a viable niche in the post-heart-attack therapy market – are each 81 milligrams. That is a significantly less powerful dosage than the maximum the Food and Drug Administration will allow, 325 milligrams, said Doug Petkus, spokesperson for Schering-Plough.
‘The aspirins people normally take are each 325 milligrams. But many doctors are recommending a lower-dose aspirin in daily therapy for patients who have suffered from an initial heart attack. The 81 milligram product permits more flexible dosing for these patients,’ Petkus said.
The adult chewables will be touted as convenient, easy-to-swallow and pleasant tasting. A new bottlecap design is said to be childproof, yet easy to open for adults.
The St. Joseph chewable aspirin for children was discontinued about six years ago, because aspirin was associated with causing health problems in children. Analysts say building on the equity of the St. Joseph brand name – developed over several decades – to launch an adult formula is a smart move only if the introduction is a preview of more products designed to target older adults.
‘I think it’s a waste of time and energy to bring St. Joseph back by itself, unless it’s part of a broader concept,’ said David Saks, vice president, drug analyst, Gruntal & Co., New York. ‘I can’t imagine this will be successful on its own, because there doesn’t seem to be a particularly large market for adults. It’s a specialty market. But maybe this is a signal that they’re starting a line aimed at the geriatric market,’ Saks said.
Some retailers said the St. Joseph adult aspirin will do well at retail. Private label brands, which lead the $290 million aspirin category, and Bayer have no competition. ‘We’re selling a lot of adult chewable aspirins. There’s no competition right now except for private label and Bayer. And private label is outselling Bayer 10 times,’ said a retailer at a Midwest drug chain.
The leading entity in the aspirin category is private label brands with a 41.7% market share. Bayer is No. 2 with a 40.4% share. Ecotrin has 14.7% of the market and Norwich rounds out the field at 1.6%, according to market research firm Towne-Oller, an Information Resources unit.
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