CINCINNATI -- Procter & Gamble recently opened a health care research center here to develop over-the-counter and prescription drugs more quickly and at more competitive prices.
"Our new research center will ensure the rapid delivery of innovative health care products to retailers," said Thomas A. Moore, president of P&G's health care products business. P&G executives declined to give any specific numbers on how the the new facility would help speed new product introductions, except to say that the improvement over traditional research and development time would be significant.
In nonprescription products, P&G focuses on oral care, respiratory care, gastrointestinal care and analgesics. "As an example of the new OTC products we plan to launch through the new facility, Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup is about to be upgraded. It's coming out in a more effective version and that product will be on retailers' shelves by the early fall," said Jim Schwartz, company spokesman. P&G's prescription products include cardiac, respiratory and bone health. According to Nielsen North America, Schaumburg, Ill., health and beauty care products generated $11.3 billion in sales at food stores for the year ended Dec. 31, 1994. During the same period, dollar volume stood at $13 billion at drug stores and $9.9 billion at mass merchandisers.
Information Resources Inc., Chicago, reported that for the 52-week period ended March 26, 1995, the total dollar volume for HBC in food stores was $13.2 billion; drug stores, $15.6 billion, and mass merchandisers $11.4 billion.
"Health care continues to be one of the fastest-growing retail categories -- in the United States and throughout the world. It's essential for our retailers to know they can count on P&G to offer them the new products consumers are demanding."
The innovations at P&G will be a tremendous asset to food retailers, helping them to hold their own in the strong and growing HBC market, according to P&G officials. "The reason we're so confident that we can achieve such ambitious goals is that the strengths that it takes to compete in health care capitalize on P&G's core competencies," said John E. Pepper, the company's new chairman and chief executive officer, who officially opened the $280 million, 1.3 million-square-foot center July 19.
A key to achieving the facility's goals is state-of-the-art technology. The center will be linked through a worldwide computer network with P&G's other research and development centers in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The traditional library has been replaced by an information center, where computers will make new data on drug compounds instantly accessible from anywhere in the world. There also are two teleconferencing centers, which enable researchers to meet "face-to-face" from anywhere in the system.