Chattanooga-based Chattem relaunches antacid Rolaids

Chattanooga-based Chattem relaunches antacid Rolaids

September 17th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Sanofi reintroduces Rolaids in the United States.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Chattem, Inc., CEO Zan Guerry

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Chattem officials say they hope to take a big bite out of the $2.5 billion consumer antacid market as its Rolaids tablets hit stores Monday for the first time in nearly three years.

Chattanooga-based Chattem returned the heartburn tablets, along with a first-ever liquid version of the medicine, to the shelves of retailers nationwide after the hiatus of the product due to a recall by its former owner.

Zan Guerry, Chattem's chief executive, said earlier this summer that the planned roll out was generating "a lot of buzz in the industry" and company officials expected to see more store displays and merchandising than they had originally foreseen.

"For the last few years there has been a significant gap in the over-the-counter antacid marketplace here in the U.S.," said Guerry, in a statement.

Robert Long, Chattem's executive vice president, said Chattem will support the relaunch of Rolaids with commercials featuring Food Netword chef Guy Fieri.

Long also said there's the possibility that Rolaids will be packaged in Chattanooga in the future, offering the potential of boosting the company's workforce locally.

Chattem, the U.S. consumer health care arm of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, said a new "Ultra Strength" version also is available.

Chattem had said in January that it planned to reintroduce Rolaids after buying the antacid for an undisclosed amount from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of giant Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson recalled the antacid in the United States in December 2010 because wood and metal particles were potentially introduced into the products during the manufacturing process at an outside supplier.

Rolaids beginnings are linked with a Chattanooga chemist. The former main ingredient in Rolaids was developed by Dr. Irvine W. Grote, who was a University of Tennessee at Chattanooga chemistry professor for more than three decades.

Grote also worked for Parke, Davis & Co. and served on Chattem's board, and his name appeared on 75 patents before his 1972 death.

Officials said Rolaids will go head-to-head with Tums, which Chattem officials put as a $200 million-a-year brand.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.