Pfizer Places Zoloft’s $50 Mil. Biz in Review

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is in the early stages of a review for antidepressant drug Zoloft, a competitor of Eli Lilly & Co.’s Prozac and SmithKline Beecham’s Paxil, sources said.
The New York-based company has hired ADvice & ADvisors in New York to manage the search, said sources. The consultant declined comment and the client could not be reached.
Billings are estimated at $50 million.
Sources indicated that the client wants to advertise Zoloft more broadly to consumers via a general-market agency. Previous advertising, by incumbent Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift, touted the drug’s power and efficacy.
“It’s something that’s not currently [marketed] direct-to-consumer,” a source said. “But it’s going to be.”
It is unclear whether Lyons Lavey, a New York shop that specializes in healthcare and medical
advertising, will participate in the review. The agency did not return calls.
In 1998, the latest year for which figures are available, Pfizer recorded Zoloft sales of $1.8 billion worldwide, trailing market leader Prozac, at $2.8 billion, according to Med Ad News. Paxil ranked third, at $1.7 billion.
ADvice & ADvisors handled Pfizer’s last big review, in 1999, for its Zyrtec allergy drug–a $75 million account. In that contest, Deutsch bested McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather
and Merkley Newman Harty, all New York.
It is unclear whether the Zoloft review includes media duties. But it is unlikely, since Pfizer last year had consolidated $200 million in media business at Carat USA in New York [Adweek, Sept. 20].