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These articles were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on November 17, 1999. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane: Patricia Nasshorn

Patricia Nasshorn has a job any woman could love. She

is head of a small division in a major pharmaceutical conglomerate,

marketing a product that has virtually no competitors, and earlier

this year she cut her commute time in half by moving her office, lock,

stock, and barrel to downtown Princeton. If that weren’t enough, Nasshorn

routinely gets E-mails from her customers thanking her for her company’s

product.

Nasshorn is president of Unipath Diagnostics Co., a division of the

U.K.-based Unilever and the marketing arm for a complete line of women’s

reproductive diagnostics that includes ClearBlue Easy, a home-based

pregnancy test. That is already more or less a household name, but

Nasshorn’s job is to give the company’s latest product, a first-of-its

kind computerized fertility test, the same kind of presence in the

minds of consumers and merchandisers. The ClearPlan Fertility Monitor,

as it is called, is a palm-size computer that uses urine tests to

pinpoint the exact days in a woman’s cycle when conception is most

likely. Although it is currently available on the Internet and in

most pharmacies, many of the big chain merchandisers are holding out

due to the $199 price-tag.

On the consumer front, however, things look good. Since the product

launch in March, Nasshorn has received a slew of E-mails from women

who were finally able to conceive while using the monitor. "It

feels great to help women and families," she says. "I just

find the area of women’s health extremely interesting, and I love

being associated with a company and product that helps people."

Before Unilever, Nasshorn worked for Johnson & Johnson. Based in New

Brunswick, Nasshorn was vice president of marketing for the diagnostics

division, where she oversaw the development and marketing of Confide,

the first home-based HIV testing service, and J&J’s pregnancy test

kits. When Unilever approached J&J in hopes of finding an American

marketing partner for its soon-to-be released fertility monitor, Nasshorn

was a key to those discussions. Unipath eventually decided to launch

independently, and Nasshorn was the obvious choice to lead the marketing

effort. "They were interested in finding someone who had U.S.

marketing experience and an understanding of women’s diagnostics and

I was able to bring both of those to the party," she explains.

Initially, Nasshorn worked out of Unilever’s Manhattan office, but

when the company decided Unipath should split off and find a new home,

Nasshorn hand-picked Princeton for professional and personal reasons.

"Princeton is really rich with human resources and talent in the

health care industry," says Nasshorn. It is also very close to

the town where she was born, and the place she has lived ever since.

Nasshorn grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, the middle child in

a family of all-daughters. Like their father, an entrepreneur who

sold measurement instruments to companies, Nasshorn and her two sisters

showed a propensity for math and science (one sister now teaches math

at Temple University, another works at Unisys). Nasshorn received

a business degree from Temple University, Class of 1976, and a marketing

and finance MBA in 1977.

Since she wanted to continue living in Bucks County,

Nasshorn decided to launch her career in the pharmaceutical industry.

She began with Johnson & Johnson, working as a market analyst. In

1984, she expanded her management experience by joining Bristol-Myers

Squibb, where she helped identify new business and licensing opportunities

and negotiate acquisitions. In 1991 she joined Merck to execute the

$6 billion acquisition of Medco, and returned to J&J in 1994 as a

vice president of marketing.

Throughout her 20-year career, Nasshorn has never left eastern Pennsylvania,

first because of an affinity, and later out of duty. Her husband,

Donald Nasshorn, is a district justice and is required to live within

his jurisdiction. The couple live in Newtown where they are raising

two teenage daughters.

When she joined Unipath, there was talk of moving the division office

to Connecticut, which would have been hard — if not impossible

— for her family. Fortunately, Princeton offered everything a

small pharmaceutical company could want.

At Unipath’s office on Hulfish Street, Nasshorn presides over a small

fiefdom that includes roughly 16 marketing representatives and three

products — the ClearBlue Easy home pregnancy tests, the ClearPlan

Easy Ovulation Predictor, and the new ClearPlan Fertility Monitor.

Nasshorn meets with executives in Bedford, England, about once a month.

Of Unipath’s three products, the fertility monitor is the most unusual.

A sort of digital journal, it logs the ups and downs of a woman’s

fertility by combining modern computer technology with the now conventional

urine stick tests. "Fertility biologically declines with age and

we’re offering women the opportunity to maximize their chances of

conception," says Nasshorn. "It’s different in that it’s the

only product available that tells a woman her level of fertility every

single day based on her hormones."

Unlike the throw-away ovulation tests, such as First Response and

Answer (both Carter Wallace products), the fertility monitor is a

companion product: it can be used every day for a year or more and

the data can even be downloaded to a computer. The computer operates

on the belief that nearly all pregnancies can be attributed to intercourse

during the six days prior to the start of ovulation. On the first

day of menstruation, a woman "logs on" by taking a urine test

to detect the level of hormones that indicate the onset of ovulation.

At this time, the computer typically indicates a "low" fertility

level. From that point on, the computer asks for periodic urine tests.

When the two key hormones indicating ovulation — estrogen and

luteinizing hormone — spike, the computer lets a woman know that

her fertility level is "high."

Then, for each following cycle, the computer has a blueprint of a

woman’s cycle and knows which days to request a urine test. This allows

the monitor to pinpoint as many "high fertility" days as possible

— usually as many as six days. The throw-away ovulation tests,

by comparison, are only sensitive enough to identify three or four

high fertility days, says Nasshorn. "The monitor takes it one

step further, marrying the sticks with computer technology, and gives

women the greatest window of opportunity."

You might say Nasshorn brings her work home with her. She even recruited

her two daughters to test out the new monitor. If it could predict

onset of their periods, she reasoned, then the monitor more than likely

has other key aspects of their cycles down pat. "It was reassuring,"

she says. "For the time frame they used it, it was 100 percent

accurate."

Accuracy in this case means being able to predict hormone fluctuation

in the body that can indicates when a woman is or isn’t fertile. Unipath

can not guarantee, however, that women trying to achieve pregnancy

using the fertility monitor will have 100 percent satisfactory results.

To get FDA clearance, Unipath only had to demonstrate that the fertility

monitor picked up surges in the key hormones — not that pregnancy

rates tended to climb among those who used the product for the express

purpose of getting pregnant. "We had to prove that it compared

to our existing home ovulation tests in that it performed the same

function of identifying the hormones associated with ovulation,"

explains Nasshorn. Because the product was able to do just that, the

FDA approved a label that says the monitor maximizes your chances

of getting pregnant.

However, Unipath is conducting tests to see if the product does result

in higher rates of conception among users of the monitor. The company

hopes to publish the findings of a consumer trial, which includes

500 women between ages of 25 to 39 using the product, by the end of

the year.

Unofficially, Nasshorn believes the evidence is already in. "We’ve

heard success stories from people who have been trying anywhere from

a few months to a few years," says Nasshorn. "The real issue

is building awareness."

Unipath launched the product in March of this year at a conference

in San Francisco of the International Federation of Fertility Society.

The reception was strong, says Nasshorn: nearly 75 percent of attendees

indicated that they would introduce the products to patients; the

rest were neutral. Nasshorn also contracted a sales force to call

the top 15,000 Ob-Gyn physicians and partnered with Johnson & Johnson

to inform pharmacists on the features and benefits of the product.

"Clearly if someone is going to spend $199 they would like to

ask a pharmacist and get an informed answer," says Nasshorn.

Since the fertility monitor is a diagnostic piece of equipment, and

doesn’t require a prescription, the company also wants to generate

consumer awareness. What better place to do that these days than on

the Web; in March the company launched the website, http://www.clearplan.com,

where the consumer can get information and order the product. "The

only challenge thus far is getting the product listed in the mass

merchandisers," says Nasshorn.

Although pharmacies are currently carrying the fertility monitor,

Nasshorn is pushing to get mass marketers, such as Walmart, K-Mart

and Target, to carry it as well. At $199 a monitor, there’s a feeling

it won’t sell fast enough. "They’re concerned about the price

point — the cost of stocking the product," says Nasshorn.

However, Walmart agreed to put the product in 50 of its leading stores

as a test. "So far they’re quite pleased with the results,"

says Nasshorn.

The third part of Unipath’s marketing drive begins this month, with

advertising in several women and parent’s magazines and a concentrated

effort to reach the health producers of news programs. "We consider

this a major advance in home diagnostics," says Nasshorn.

Technology aside, Nasshorn believes the product should be a hit because

it follows the mores of reproduction that are predominant today. "Basically

we see that the trend is towards waiting a little longer not only

to get married, but to get pregnant." she says. "Our products

are what I call `feel good’ diagnostics: they don’t give you terrible

news," says Nasshorn. "It’s all wellness related and helps

people plan."

— Melinda Sherwood

Unipath Diagnostics Co. (UNLV), 47 Hulfish Street,

Suite 400, Princeton 08542. Patricia Nasshorn, president, U.S. division.

609-430-2727; fax, 609-430-1197. Home page: http://www.unipath.com.

Top Of Page
Start-Ups

Strategic Technologies LLC, 947 State Road, Suite

104, Princeton 08540. Anthony C. Warren. 609-688-9990; fax, 609-688-9988.

Anthony Warren has left Technology Management & Funding, a company

he co-founded with Harry Brener, to open his own firm. He had also

been North American president of PA Technologies.

World 4 Kids, 3081 Route 27, Franklin 08823. Faima

Shapod, office manager. 732-821-6188; fax, 732-821-5864.

A 10,000-foot historic building, the former Philip School, now houses

a daycare center for 100 children with a capacity for 160 children.

"It is one of the oldest buildings in the township, but it had

been abandoned," says Isabella Fishman, a registered nurse who

is also the administrator. Fishman says the five-acre site will also

be used for summer camps in 2000. Jim Kissane is the architect who

redesigned the building near Society Hill. Globe Miff Inc. is the

owner.

Top Of Page
Deaths

Theodore Grover, 70, on November 5. He retired as proctor

of Princeton University after 21 years of service.

Walter T. Bird, 48, on November 6. A software specialist,

he lived in Plainsboro and worked in Merrill Lynch’s New York office.

Geraldine Saunders, 52, on November 6. Also known as India

DuBois, she was a poet, writer, and singer.

Osmond Philip Breland III, 29, on November 8. He studied

at Princeton Theological Seminary and worked as a pastoral associate

at Kingston United Methodist Church.

John Phillip Johnson, 78, on November 10. He was the design

director of Creative Playthings on Alexander Street.

Eve Kraft, 73, on November 11. She founded the Princeton

Community Tennis program, became tennis coach at Princeton University

in 1971, and founded and directed the United State Tennis Association’s

Center for Education and Recreational Tennis on Alexander Road. She

was also an active volunteer in the field of mental health support

services.

Albert Reed III, 55, on November 12. He had been a lab

technician at Lockheed Martin on Princeton Hightstown Road.

Corrections or additions?


This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com

— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

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