Viagra enters Canada with responsible use message

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MONTREAL--The Canadian government recently approved the sale in Canada of Viagra, the prescription treatment for erectile dysfunction. However, the marketer of the product in Canada, Pfizer Canada Inc. of Kirkland, Quebec, is challenged to find ways to promote the product while debunking some of the inaccurate and sensational publicity that has followed the drug's launch in other countries.

Pfizer Canada plans to launch a campaign that emphasizes responsible use. The campaign is to be created by Montreal's Lally McFarland & Pantello. Media plans have yet to be finalized, but the drug will only be advertised to health care professionals since prescription drug advertising is still severely restricted in Canada.

An informational Web site has been set up that includes a self-diagnosing test for men. It involves a questionmen fill out to rate their ability to achieve and maintain an erection. The aim is to advise only those actually suffering from a serious condition to approach their doctors for the drug. Pfizer has also sent a letter to Canadian physicians warning that Viagra and any form of nitrates should not be mixed.

Pfizer is also concerned about counterfeit versions of Viagra that have circulated in other markets around the world. In Canada, a hologram will be printed on Viagra's packaging. The product will be available in blister packages of four or eight tablets, as opposed to the bottle format used in the U.S.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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