Fertin and Perrigo take on US nicotine gum players

Related tags Pharmaceutical drug Over-the-counter drug Nicotine

US drugmaker Perrigo has started selling a new nicotine gum to help
smokers quit the habit in the US, challenging the dominance there
of Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline's Nicorette product.

Denmark's Fertin Pharma is manufacturing the nicotine gum and started shipping it to the US firm in December. Fertin​ holds the dominant position in the market for chewing gum that delivers active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and produces most of the gum on the market for nicotine delivery, including that used in GlaxoSmithKline's NiQuitin CQ and Novartis' Nicotinell.

Fertin hopes that it will be able to achieve in the US what has already been accomplished elsewhere with its nicotine gum formulations. For example, in spring 2001, the Scandinavian market for nicotine gum was dominated by Pfizer's Nicorette, which accounted for 73 per cent of all nicotine gum sold. A few months beforehand, Novartis had launched Fertin Pharma's new competing formulation of Nicotinell with - it was claimed - an improved taste, better texture and a crunchy maltitol coating.

This new formulation lifted the brand from a 27 per cent market share in spring 2001 to a 43 per cent share two years later.

Perrigo​'s new 2 mg and 4 mg nicotine gum will be produced in regular, orange and mint flavors and will be Fertin Pharma's first launch in the US. The US over-the-counter (OTC) drug company received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market the products in October 2004, indicated as an aid to smoking cessation.

A spokesman for Fertin said that Perrigo's product is uncoated - which reduces its price - but makes use of taste-masking technology that reduces the burning sensation in the mouth and throat that can occur with currently marketed brands. It also has an improved texture, he said.

Ralf Auerbach, general director of Fertin, said that the aim is to gain a leading position in the store brand market for nicotine gum in the US. Perrigo is America's largest store brand distributor of OTC drugs.

Fertin's main business is the development and production ofnicotine gum, but the company see big opportunities within other medicalproduct areas.

"Medical chewing gum has a number of decisive benefitscompared with traditional delivery"​ said Annette Agerskov, deputygeneral director at Fertin. "Chewing gum is easy to administer,it provides a fast onset of action, and is convenient for the user. We arecurrently investigating areas such as allergy, cough and cold, dyspepsia,migraine, obesity, osteoporosis, and pain"

Meanwhile, Fertin has just invested about $100 million in building a new production facility to produce its gum products, based on its proprietary Medichew technology. The new pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is the only one in the world specifically designed to produce medical chewing gum. It has been approved by the US FDA.

Related topics Ingredients Delivery technologies

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