Cialis Maker Launches Guarantee Program


Wednesday, July 14th 2004, 12:29 pm
By: News On 6


BOTHELL, Wash. (AP) _ Hoping to boost new prescriptions, the makers of Cialis are launching a new program that guarantees patients' satisfaction with the erectile dysfunction drug.

The program, called ``Cialis Promise,'' lets patients try the drug for free. If they don't like it, the pills will be replaced free with one of the rival brands, Viagra or Levitra.

ICOS Corp. and its partner, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. will begin touting the offer in new television and print ads set to launch Monday.

Paul Clark, chairman and chief executive at ICOS, said he's betting the ads will back up other research the company has showing customers prefer Cialis over the rivals.

The new promotion comes as the drug's market-share growth appears to have stalled. Cialis accounted for less than 19 percent of new prescriptions written for erectile dysfunction drugs and had an overall market share of 14.1 percent by late June, according to figures from IMS Health, a research firm.

Viagra's share of new prescriptions was 65 percent, and its overall market share was 74 percent. Levitra's overall market share was about 12 percent, IMS Health found.

Paul Latta, an analyst who tracks ICOS for Seattle-based McAdams Wright Ragen, said some investors have noticed the slowdown of Cialis.

``That's been a problem. It's clearly weighing on (ICOS') stock,'' he said.

Clark said he's encouraged by the drug's growth in the market since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it last November.

Latta predicted that the drug will fall short of a 20 percent overall share of the market unless Cialis gains new prescriptions faster during the second half of this year.

ICOS ran a similar promotion, aimed at prescribing physicians, earlier this year. ``Cialis Challenge'' gave patients prescription vouchers for Cialis or its rival after they tried Cialis then filled out a survey.

Under that program, which was not widely publicized, the ``overwhelming majority'' of vouchers were used to purchase Cialis, said Leonard Blum, senior vice president for sales and marketing for ICOS.

Pfizer Inc. recently hired a new agency to produce its U.S. advertising campaign for Viagra. It's also running a campaign that gives Viagra consumers one free prescription for every six purchased.

And earlier this year, GlaxoSmithKline and its marketing partner Bayer Pharmaceuticals Inc. launched a new Levitra ad featuring an attractive brunette with tousled hair who says the drug improves erection quality and makes her partner want to ``do this more often.''