This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 20, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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The Food and Drug Administration giving the thumbs up to Levitra late Tuesday. It is now the second drug available in the billion-dollar-plus anti-impotence market. Shares of Pfizer (PFE) falling almost 2 percent if the company loses its position in this key market.
Here are the guys behind this new drug: Colin Foster, the president of Bayer Pharmaceuticals North America, and Chris Viehbacher, the head of U.S. operations for GlaxoSmithKline.
Gentlemen, welcome to both of you.
COLIN FOSTER, PRESIDENT, BAYER NORTH AMERICA: Thank you, Neil.
CHRIS VIEHBACHER, PRESIDENT, GLAXOSMITHKLINE U.S. (GSK): Thank you very much.
FOSTER: We’re happy to be here.
CAVUTO: Colin, to you first. This is supposed to be a Viagra-killer or just a Viagra-adder?
FOSTER: I think Levitra offers patients with erectile dysfunction a tremendous benefit, which hasn’t been available in the past. I think in terms of the short duration of action -- you can take this drug, and it’s ready for you almost immediately -- and in terms of reliability, it’s always there.
CAVUTO: Wait. Wait a minute. Almost immediately? When you take Viagra, how long do you have to wait before you’re revved up, ready to go?
FOSTER: Well, I can’t speak so much for Viagra, but, for our drug, certainly, we recommend waiting about an hour, but there’s plenty of clinical research which shows that the drug is available to be used a lot sooner and it produces this effect and...
CAVUTO: When you’re saying immediately, are you saying like instantly it...
FOSTER: Well, I don’t think quite so instantly, but certainly within the...
CAVUTO: You’re saying faster than Viagra.
CAVUTO: OK. Chris, here’s the thing. I notice you brought Levitra with you and you’ve got a small army of men surrounding you in the building. But is there something to this that there’s nothing new-new here. I mean if you’re taking Viagra, you’re happy with Viagra, you don’t need this.
VIEHBACHER: Well, I think, Neil, the interesting thing is that people aren’t always happy with Viagra. We’ve done a study what men want and found that 79 percent of men are actually looking for other treatment options. When you look at refill rates of prescriptions, 50 percent never get refilled.
That tells me that there is still some unsatisfied demand, and that’s why I think Levitra is good news for the 30-million American guys out there that are suffering from erectile dysfunction.
CAVUTO: But here’s the fear here, that it should never be used by men who take nitric-containing drugs for heart conditions, or if you have a heart condition in general, or you take any alpha-blockers. It would scare people, wouldn’t it, from taking it?
FOSTER: In terms of alpha-blockers, all the PDFIs are likely to include some sort of guidance in terms of their labeling for these sorts of drugs.
CAVUTO: Including Pfizer...
FOSTER: Absolutely. And when it comes to QDC, we’ve done, I think, a landmark study to show that there’s really no significant clinical event that arises out of this caution.
CAVUTO: Here’s what the analysts and the Wall Street community guys say. Despite whatever merits -- and this drug gets high reviews -- it’s going to be a crowded field, OK.
You obviously have Viagra now and you guys. You’re going to have Cialis coming, what, later this year? And there could be other variations of products still.
Does it get to be a diminishing return?
VIEHBACHER: The best thing to look at is nine out of 10 guys still don’t seek treatment. Only 13 percent of the eligible population is getting treated. So you are looking at a billion-dollar market now. But with only 13 percent, I think there’s room for everybody here.
CAVUTO: All right, but how do you reach that 87 percent that’s not reaching out to you?
FOSTER: I think the combination of Glaxo and Bayer together is a formidable partnership, and we have expertise on the professional side in terms of educating physicians on how best to use our brand.
Within two weeks of launch, we expect to touch the minds of every single physician who’s prescribing erectile dysfunction drugs in America. In addition to that, our companies are experts at DTC, direct to consumer advertising.
And we’ve got a lot of household brands between us where we know how to take these brands into the household and make a difference in people’s lives.
CAVUTO: But, ultimately, you’re going to have to appeal, let’s say, to an audience that’s going to decide for the time being between Viagra and Levitra. You’ve got to sell in an ad here we’re better than Viagra. Now I can see what you’re saying if you’re going sooner, but what else?
VIEHBACHER: I don’t think you do actually have to say that you’re going to sell better than Viagra. I mean what -- the real opportunity again is to grow the market.
CAVUTO: But you have to give people an alternative to Viagra.
VIEHBACHER: Sure. And what we’re trying to do is use an educational approach. We’ve just done an unprecedented relationship and sponsorship of the NFL. Through that and with the help of Coach Mike Ditka, we’re launching a program called "Tackling Men’s Health."
That’s all about taking a proactive role for guys to look after their health because we guys don’t tend to go to the physician on a regular basis, and that’s looking at high cholesterol, that’s looking at high blood pressure, but is also saying that sexual health and good sexual health is part of overall good health care.
So, by taking that educational approach, we’re hoping to reach out not only to get a proactive sense of your well-being, but also get rid of some of the stigmas and taboos around that. I mean that’s more masculine than football.
CAVUTO: But haven’t we removed the stigmas with Viagra? You know what I’m saying? On just the sexual side.
FOSTER: I think with only 13 percent of men seeking treatment to date, there’s a whole untapped mark and great opportunity for a great new innovative product in the name of Levitra.
CAVUTO: All right. The only question I have is on this Medicare push to get prescription drug coverage. Would that hurt you if all of a sudden the price you could command for this is less than you want?
VIEHBACHER: I think one of things that we’re trying to make sure happens in the United States is that the price of medicine still is always enough to fund innovation. This is the best health-care system in the world, and more in innovation is being done in this country than anywhere else in the world, and we need to protect that.
CAVUTO: Christopher, thank you. Colin, thank you.
FOSTER: Thank you.
VIEHBACHER: Thank you very much.
CAVUTO: Appreciate it.
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