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New Bayer Non-Aspirin To Debut

September 3, 1992

NEW YORK (AP) _ Drug maker Sterling Winthrop Inc. unveiled a non-aspirin line of its popular Bayer pain reliever that targets specific complaints including sinus pain and menstrual cramps.

The move Wednesday signaled an attempt to capitalize on the venerable Bayer name in order to grab market share in a category that is dominated by non- aspirin products.

Indeed, while Bayer is the No. 1 aspirin, it ranks third behind Tylenol and Advil among analgesics, or pain relievers. (Neither Tylenol nor Advil contains aspirin.) Non-aspirin products account for 58 percent of analgesic tablet volume, Sterling officials said.

Five different configurations of maximum strength, non-aspirin pain relievers will be introduced in late September under the ″Bayer Select″ name. They individually target headaches, sinus pain, arthritis and muscle pain, menstrual cramps and night-time pain.

Sterling, a division of Eastman Kodak Co., will spend $70 million over the next year on advertising and will issue one billion coupons, executives said at a press conference.

Douglas Meyer, president of Sterling Health USA, said extensive market research over the past year showed that consumers are confused about analgesic ingredients.

The leading ingredients in non-aspirin products are ibuprofen and acetaminiphen. Non-aspirin pain relievers have been promoted as doing the job without stomach upset, the main complaint lobbied against aspirin.

Meyer said 78 percent of the consumers Sterling polled said they used different pain-fighting products for the various pains they suffered. Meyer said the five Bayer Select products, which contain either ibuprofen or acetaminiphen as well as other active ingredients, are very different from each other.

Meyer said the new line will not cut into sales of traditional Bayer aspirin. ″They are separate groups - people who use aspirin and people who don’t,″ he said.

While Meyer predicted Bayer Select would redefine and expand the analgesic category, he declined to estimate the sales increase Sterling expects to see.

Some analysts were skeptical that variations on the Bayer theme would yield much in terms of revenue. ″It’s a good marketing strategy, a good line- extension strategy for a good brand name, but it isn’t going to change the market or lead to much acceleration″ in sales, said Marc O. Mayer, an industry analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein.

″The aspirin segment hasn’t shown growth in years,″ he said, noting that even aspirin substitutes like ibuprofen have had ″steady, but not explosive growth.″

And Kim Ritrievi, an analyst with PaineWebber Inc., questioned whether the Bayer Select product for menstrual cramps would cut into sales of Midol, another Sterling product, which is marketed strictly as a menstrual pain reliever.

Sterling’s Meyer noted that Midol typically is shelved with feminine hygiene products, not with general analgesics, where Bayer products appear.

Because 70 percent of women use general pain relievers for menstrual cramps, Meyer said Midol sales will not be affected by the corresponding Bayer Select product.

Sterling has been aggressively repositioning its products in an effort to boost sales. Over the past year the company introduced a variety of Midol products - including Midol PM which includes a sleep aid, Teen Midol, Midol IB with ibuprofen and Midol PMS for pre-menstrual syndrome.

The company also has tinkered with its Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia, introducing cherry and mint flavors as well as gelcaps a few months ago.

Updating and reconfiguring tried-and-true brands is a common strategy. Other companies have acted on consumers’ growing preference for non-aspirin products. A year ago Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. introduced Excedrin IB, its non- aspirin version of the popular Excedrin, even though aspirin is only one of three key ingredients in traditional Excedrin.

Bayer aspirin originally was made in New York by Bayer AG until the German company’s assets were seized at the beginning of World War I. Sterling purchased Bayer’s aspirin production capabilities from the U.S. goverment more than 70 years ago.

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