Analysis: J&J's answer to Botox may escalate war on wrinkles
By Ransdell Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson may soon cause frown lines at Allergan Inc, maker of Botox.
J&J expects to seek U.S. approval next year for an anti-wrinkle drug that could break Botox's near monopoly, an 85 percent market share. The J&J product could be available in the United States in 2015 and overseas a few years later, the company said.
Two smaller drugmakers with similar products haven't made substantial inroads into the almost $900 million a year market. But dermatologists and analysts say J&J could be a real threat to Botox, an iconic brand since it was introduced more than a decade ago. Allergan declined to comment on the potential rival.
"J&J is probably the only company that can go head to head directly with Allergan," said Morningstar analyst Michael Waterhouse. "They have a big marketing budget and sales force, and an attractive cosmetic portfolio" of other products to offer dermatologists.
Still, J&J's quest won't be easy. Analysts and dermatologists said its product likely would need to work faster, last longer or be significantly cheaper than Botox in order to wrest market share from the original injectable wrinkle fighter.
"J&J is a company I'd take seriously; they have great research and try to be industry leaders in every category," said Dr. Kenneth Beer, a dermatologist in West Palm Beach, Florida who has been a consultant for Allergan and J&J.
But he said patients aren't quick to switch from something with which they are familiar. "Allergan has built such a strong brand. People ask for Botox by name. This will be an uphill struggle" for Johnson & Johnson.
J&J has not yet unveiled the data from completed late-stage trials for the still unnamed drug. But David Wilson, president of J&J's Mentor division, told Reuters he was pleased with the results. Continued...