The agency won a pitch against Hill & Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller and Porter Novelli and becomes agency of record for all US PR for the drugs.
WPP sister agency Shire Health Group is to handle PR for the products – as well as for post-operative painkiller Dynastat – outside the US.
Both Manning Selvage & Lee, which had held the Celebrex account, and Weber Shandwick, which held Bextra, did not repitch (PRWeek, 3 September).
This is the second time Pfizer has consolidated PR for one of its drug franchises; WPP also landed the cardiovascular franchise earlier this year (PRWeek, 6 February).
The high-profile recall of Merck & Co’s arthritis drug Vioxx over safety concerns has thrown the spotlight on Celebrex and Bextra.
Pfizer has taken out advertising to promote Celebrex’s safety, while announcing that it is sponsoring more studies.
Meanwhile a Food & Drug Administration safety officer last month listed Bextra as one of five widely used dangerous drugs. Pfizer moved to reaffirm Bextra’s safety through a website statement.