Johnson & Johnson MSD, the consumer pharmaceutical partnership, is aiming to create a new drug category to treat digestion problems with the launch of Domperidone.
J&J says it is creating a new category called motility agents to treat bloating, flatulence, belching, nausea and acid heartburn.
The company claims Domperidone counters more ailments than traditional antacids, which only treat acid heartburn.
Formerly only available on prescription, the drug has recently been granted P status (or “pharmacist assisted”, which means it can only be sold under the guidance of a pharmacist). It is awaiting confirmation of a product licence from the Medicines Control Agency.
It is understood that press advertising will target both consumers and pharmacists. According to one source, convincing pharmacists of the drug’s value will be key, because in the past lack of their support has affected sales. He says: “Previously, with stomach remedies like Zantac, manufacturers underestimated the role of the pharmacist.”
J&J forged a partnership with MSD (Merck Sharp Dohme) in 1989. It began operating in the UK in 1994, under the name Centra – the name switched to J&J MSD in 1996.
The joint operation specialises in POM (prescription-only medicine) to P status switches and has to date launched P brands including Imodium diarrhoea tablets, Daktarin athlete’s foot cream and Nizoral Dandruff Shampoo.
The company confirms J&J MSD drove the P switch application, and says this “reflects the safety profile of the product”.