CARAT AWARDED ARTHRITIS DRUG MEDIA BUYING BUSINESS

MediaCom to Pick Up Planning Duties for Celebrex, Bextra

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In a complicated agency shake-up on sibling brands, joint marketers Pfizer and Pharmacia Corp. awarded media buying duties for successful arthritis drug Celebrex and its successor drug, Bextra, to Aegis Group's Carat USA, New York, people with knowledge of the situation said.

Celebrex buying had been at Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York, which picks up planning duties for both.

Details were

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still being worked out late last week, and it was unclear exactly when the accounts would shift. A Pfizer executive declined comment.

Planning for Celebrex was at Bcom3 Group's Starcom, Chicago, a vestige of when creative duties on the brand -- now at WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York -- were at Bcom3's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

Bextra had no previous media agency since it was just cleared by the Food and Drug Administration this month. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York, handles creative.

Billings for the accounts were unclear. CMR figures show Celebrex spent $103 million through August of this year. Bextra will likely be heavily promoted, although the companies are expected to try to convince doctors of its efficacy before reaching out to consumers.

Celebrex launched in 1999 and has gone up against Merck & Co.'s Vioxx. Merck also has a Bextra competitor waiting for the FDA's blessing.

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