FDA warns docs on flu drugs

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The U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a warning to physicians to be wary of misprescribing the new flu drugs Tamiflu, from Hoffmann-La Roche, and Relenza, from Glaxo Wellcome, calling into question whether big-dollar direct-to-consumer campaigns for the drugs are perhaps working too well. In the public health advisory, the FDA said the "promotional activities'' for the drugs "have increased attention to and interest in'' the medications, and it warned physicians not to prescribe them too liberally. The drugs aren't for everyone, the FDA said, especially those who have bacterial infections that may appear to be the flu. The FDA also warned about prescribing Relenza to patients who suffer from asthma since the agency said it has received reports of individuals suffering from respiratory problems after taking that drug. Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, handles Relenza, which features ex-"Seinfeld'' actor Wayne Knight in DTC ads, while Young & Rubicam has Tamilfu.

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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