Healthcare: Negative coverage halves GP prescription of Celebrex

Nearly half of GPs have stopped prescribing Pfizer's arthritis pain medication Celebrex amid recent negative information about the product - and its class - in the past three months, according to PRWeek's latest Brand Watch chart.

The overwhelming majority (191) of 200 GPs polled recalled seeing, hearing or reading about Celebrex, one of the controversial Cox-2 inhibitor class of drugs.

Two thirds saw an article in a medical journal, half saw an article in the lay press, with around a third citing the source as either a colleague or medical journal ad.

Almost four fifths (79 per cent) of the 191 doctors felt that the messages conveyed about Celebrex were generally negative - although five per cent perceived positive messages.

Nearly half of the 191 GPs have now stopped prescribing Celebrex and a further 37 per cent have reduced their usage.

The European Medicines Agency warned in February that doctors should be 'cautious' about giving Cox-2 inhibitors to patients who have risk factors for heart disease. Patients already on Cox-2s were advised to discuss their treatment with their GP.

Other Cox-2 brands include Bextra, Arcoxia and Prexige. Merck pulled Vioxx from the market last year after finding it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. Further advice on Cox-2 is due shortly.

Positive coverage in the professional press and clinical trial results were the two main factors considered by around half the GPs as likely to encourage them to re-start or increase their prescribing of Celebrex.

About three fifths of GPs, whose prescribing of Celebrex had not changed, decreased or stopped, had encountered patients expressing concerns about the product, arising principally through the tabloid press, TV and newspapers.

Brand Watch is based on research by NOP World Health, via GP Net, which took place in March.

BRAND WATCH - PFIZER'S CELEBREX

Where was it that you read, saw or heard about Celebrex?

Medical journal (68%)

Article in lay media (51%)

GP colleagues (35%)

Medical journal ad (31%)

TV (27%)

What overall flavour did the information have?

Positive (5%)

Neutral (16%)

Negative (79%)

How has this information affected your prescribing of Celebrex?

Stopped (47%)

Decreased (37%)

No change (8%)

Increased (1%)

Not prescribed (7%)

Started to prescribe (1%)

From which source have patients concerned about Celebrex received their

information?

Tabloid press (61%)

TV programme (60%)

Newspapers (55%)

Family/friends (28%)

Source: NOP World survey via GP Net, March, 200 GPs polled

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