Pfizer has invited an unspecified number of agencies to pitch for the consumer business on its cholesterol- lowering blockbuster Lipitor, the company confirmed today.
"We've invited a range of leading agencies with broad consumer experience and a reputation for innovation to participate," Pfizer spokesman Paul Ewing told MM&M.
Incumbent agency Merkley + Partners is among those invited to pitch.
Merkley chief executive Alex Gellert told AdWeek.com the Omnicom Group agency would defend the business.
Cholesterol-lowering Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug in the world, with sales topping $11 billion last year. U.S. sales accounted for $7.7 billion.
Major media spending on Lipitor has jumped over the past four years, from approximately $50 million in 2001 to about $120 million in 2004, according to figures from Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Spending in the first four months of 2005 totaled $35 million. Estimated billings on Merkley's portion of the business are $ 60-80 million.
Merkley has handled consumer creative duties for Lipitor since 2000. The agency's most recent ads illustrate how high-cholesterol can affect anyone, regardless of their weight. A recent print ad shows a petite woman next to a portly man, each labeled "Total cholesterol 250." The headline reads: "High cholesterol comes in all shapes and sizes."