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Pfizer launching expanded ad campaign for Celebrex

NEW YORK -- Just weeks after Merck & Co. pulled its anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx from the market, rival Celebrex, marketed by Pfizer Inc., is mounting a wide-scale, consumer-oriented ad campaign to get people to ask their doctors about the drug.

Ads in national newspapers will appear today, said a Pfizer representative. She declined to say how much Pfizer will spend on the ad campaign, but Pfizer put about $87.1 million behind media time for the drug in 2003 and about $40.7 million for the first six months of 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The campaign comes as several Vioxx rivals have begun to advertise in hopes of getting consumers who took that drug to take their product instead. Among the entrants in this marketing battle are Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol and Wyeth Pharmaceutical's Advil, as well as rival prescription painkillers including Celebrex and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH's Mobic.

Pfizer will expand from newspaper ads that promote Celebrex to television and magazine ads, the representative said.

Merck pulled Vioxx, a drug that had 2003 sales of $2.5 billion, in response to a drug trial that linked the anti-inflammatory drug to cardiovascular risk.

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