NEW YORK -- A federal court has ordered Johnson & Johnson/Merck, maker of Pepcid AC, and SmithKline Beecham, maker of Tagamet HB, to modify promotional materials for their respective H2 antagonist products.
e during a multimillion-dollar marketing battle that has been in progress since both companies launched over-the-counter stomach remedy products that are low-dose versions of their anti-ulcer prescription counterparts.
The ruling upholds SmithKline Beecham's position that Pepcid AC commercials contained a number of significantly false or misleading claims regarding length and speed of efficacy of Pepcid AC.
Johnson & Johnson/Merck must now withdraw nine of 11 Pepcid AC commercials from the air. It also must cease claiming that "eight out of 10 doctors and pharmacists would recommend Pepcid AC more often than Tagamet HB," pending additional scientific study.
The ruling also directs SmithKline Beecham to modify promotional material, including a chart showing that Tagamet had been prescribed 237 million times since its introduction.
SmithKline Beecham can only claim that Tagamet has been prescribed 76 million more times than Pepcid and that doctors have chosen Tagamet over Pepcid at a 3-to-1 ratio. The companies claim that many of these changes were in effect prior to the ruling.