Pfizer halts DTC ads for Celebrex

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Pfizer has put a stop to DTC advertising for its COX-2 drug Celebrex after a study showed the painkiller was associated with an increased risk of heart attacks.
The indefinite suspension of advertising includes consumer television, radio, newspaper and magazine ads and other promotions, a Pfizer spokeswoman said.
Pfizer spent $71 million DTC advertising for Celebrex in the first nine months of 2004.
Up until last Friday, Pfizer had been promoting Celebrex as a safe alternative to Merck's Vioxx, withdrawn from the market in September, after a study found it nearly tripled the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking the drug for more than 18 months. 
Celebrex and Vioxx are in the same COX-2 medication class.
Although DTC advertising will be halted, Pfizer said it will continue to marketing Celebrex to doctors and has no plans to remove the drug from the market.
"We're leaving Celebrex on the market because it is an appropriate option for many patients," said Henry McKinnell, Pfizer's chief executive.
However, the FDA said Friday it was already considering measures that could lead to severe label warnings and/or requirements the drug be taken off the market.

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