CHILDREN'S NEEDS ARE LATEST FRONTIER OF DTC RX AD BLITZ: PFIZER BACKS ALLERGY REMEDY, ANTIBIOTIC IN NEW WORK

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Pediatrics is poised to become the new frontier for the explosion in direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs.

Pfizer is now breaking ads touting child usage for two of its products-its heavily supported allergy remedy Zyrtec and new-to-advertising antibiotic Zithromax-in September issues of general-interest and women's service magazines.

FIRST FOR AN ANTIBIOTIC

Zithromax will appear in print advertorials-the first consumer ads for an antibiotic-from Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis, in an estimated $15 million campaign that explains ear infections and uses of antibiotics.

Ads show a baby looking bug-eyed at 10 spoonfuls of medicine and emphasize Zithromax's lower dosage of five spoons with the tagline "Five days and you're done."

Zyrtec, already supported by $29.6 million in 1996 in the highly competitive allergy category, will target children's usage with ads that employ the flower imagery and "Big allergies" tagline from its existing campaign. But the new ads incorporate children and emphasize the banana/grape-flavor remedy's "Big taste" in copy.

Omnicon Group pharmaceutical ad agency Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift, New York, handles.

LOOKING FOR AN ANGLE

"The market potential for kids is huge, and a lot of it is driven by pharmaceutical companies looking for a marketing angle," said Dr. Steven Haimowitz, senior VP-director of medical services at ad agency GHB&M Healthworld, New York.

Schering-Plough Corp. first advertised a children's syrup version of its Claritin allergy remedy in January, a few months after the syrup was approved by the Food & Drug Administration. Its ad-from Thomas Ferguson Associates, Parsippany, N.J.-depicts active kids bicycling, in-line skating and playing soccer while copy stresses Claritin's non-drowsy formula.

SEDATION AND SCHOOLKIDS

"Sedation is an important issue for children, particularly at school," said a Schering spokesman.

Agouron Pharmaceuticals' HIV drug Viracept got simultaneous adult and pediatric approval from FDA in March and ads for both began in April. The campaign from Mulryan/Nash, New York, appeared in Poz and shows a photograph of a woman and infant with the line, "Anyone can get HIV. Everyone should be able to fight back."

"For pediatrics, historically, there hasn't been a plethora of options available. People need to know this is now an option," said an Agouron spokeswoman.

Mulryan/Nash is considering outdoor as the next medium for the campaign.

MORE EFFORTS PROBABLE

Additional pediatric marketing efforts are sure to come soon as President Clinton and the FDA have requested more pediatric clinical testing from pharmaceutical companies. The requests came in response to doctors, who often prescribe drugs for kids-including Eli Lilly & Co.'s antidepressant Prozac-even though dosage is uncertain.

"Pediatricians get used to using one brand-one that may not be officially approved yet for kids-and parents may now ask for one that is," said Dr. Haimowitz. "It will be great for those products."

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