NEW YORK: Pfizer has recalled its arthritis drug Bextra in what could be a sign of greater PR challenges to come for the healthcare industry.
The drug company is working with Ogilvy, AOR for its pain franchise, on the crisis effort. The decision to withdrawal was made at the request of the Food and Drug Administration
Ogilvy declined to discuss the outreach it is doing around the recall. Pfizer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Bextra is in the same class of medications as Merck's Vioxx, which was recalled in October. But in a statement, Pfizer stressed that Bextra was recalled because of its potential for "serious skin reactions," not its potential for heart problems.
It also said it "respectfully disagrees" with the FDA on Bextra's risk/benefit profile.
Fleishman SVP Mark Senak noted that the recall is likely to be a greater crisis for the FDA than any particular company.
"I think it shakes confidence not as a single event, but that there was a confluence of events," he said, citing not only Vioxx but safety concerns with anti-depressants and the flu vaccine. "My perspective of it is more of a public health issue in general."
Pfizer will also update the safety labeling on arthritis drug Celebrex, which it has insisted is safer than other arthritis drugs in its class. Ogilvy works on that account, as well.