PFIZER NARROWS DRUG REVIEW TO SEVEN SHOPS

Agencies Competing for Zyrtec, Zoloft and Bextra Assignments

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Pfizer Inc. has trimmed its review for direct-to-consumer prescription medications Zyrtec, Zoloft and Bextra to seven finalists, the drug maker said.

Of the seven shops, four are New York-based roster agencies: Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide; Publicis Groupe's Publicis; and Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day and MNH Healthworks. The three new shops vying for Pfizer business are WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and Publicis' Kaplan Thaler Group, both New York, and Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston.

Pitching by brand
By brand, the finalists are broken

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down as follows: Kaplan Thaler, MNH, Berlin Cameron and TBWA will compete for the $74 million anti-allergy drug Zyrtec.

For Zoloft, an anti-depressant that had $51 million in ad spending last year, the finalists are Arnold, Kaplan Thaler, MNH and Publicis.

Bextra, the successor drug to the arthritis medication Celebrex, had ad spending of less than $1 million last year, but a Pfizer executive said that is expected to be boosted this year. The finalists for Bextra are Arnold, McCann-Erickson, Publicis, Berlin Cameron and TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Split with Deutsch
Final pitches will be conducted over the rest of the month, with Pfizer looking to make a decision sometime in June. The lucrative DTC accounts became available earlier this year when Pfizer dropped Interpublic's Deutsch, New York, which handled all three. Pfizer and Deutsch parted ways in February after failing to agree on a new contract.

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