Drug: Nasonex
Company: Merck
Total spend Q1, 2012: $25.6 million
Total spend Q1, 2011: $16.8 million
Watch the TV commercial here >>

To bee or not to bee. That was the question a few years ago when Congress took testimony on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising. One of the ads they heard about was Merck's ($MRK) Nasonex animated bee sporting the voice of Anthony Banderas. One of the questions was whether visuals of pups, or bugs or grandparents lifting their grandchildren to the sweep of emotional music kept consumers from hearing about the dangers of side effects. Well, the FDA this year said no, they were not a hindrance, and Merck has kept the bee with good results. The allergy drug produced $1.3 billion in sales last year, and says it generated $275 million in the first quarter, up more than 9%. But Merck's grip on this drug is slipping. In June, a federal judge ruled a generic by Apotex does not step on Merck's patent, then separately ruled against Apotex, throwing out its claim that Merck's patent on the nasal spray is invalid. The FDA has yet to rule on Apotex's application.


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