J. Walter Thompson Has Anti-arthritis Drug's $80 Million Account

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NEW YORK -- Pfizer is putting its prescription anti-arthritis drug Celebrex into review, executives close to the situation said.

Celebrex, an $80 million account handled by WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, was developed by Pharmacia Corp. and is co-marketed by the two pharmacuetical giants, who will merge later this year.

A Pfizer spokeswoman referred calls to Pharmacia, which technically still owns the drug. Pharmacia did not return a call. JWT, which declined to comment, is expected to participate in the review.

Third account in play
This will be the third major direct-to-consumer advertised drug that Pfizer has put into play in the last two weeks. After parting ways with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York, Pfizer has begun soliciting request for proposals for its Zyrtec and Zoloft brands, which have combined ad spends of more than $120 million. Roster and non-roster shops are being asked to participate.

Pfizer also relieved Deutsch of its creative duties on Bextra, which had less than $1 million in spending last year but has not been heavily marketed yet because it is the successor to Celebrex. Celebrex accounted for almost $2.4 billion in worldwide sales last year, and is the biggest-selling anti-arthritis drug on the market. Its patent does not expire until 2014.