January 6, 2003
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
GENERAL ANNOUNCE SETTLEMENT WITH PFIZER OVER ZITHROMAX ADVERTISING
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today announced that his Consumer
Protection Division, along with the offices of 18 other state Attorneys
General, settled an investigation into Pfizer, Inc.s "direct-to-consumer"
advertising for its Zithromax product as a treatment for severe
ear infections in young children. The Attorneys General alleged
that the advertisements misrepresented the efficacy of Zithromax
in comparison to other antibiotics used to treat such ear infections
by focusing on the dosing convenience and reduced frequency of use
of the product without disclosing that various factors, including
antibiotic resistance, need to be considered when a physician chooses
an antibiotic to treat ear infections.
agreeing to the settlement, Pfizer did not admit any wrongdoing
but agreed to make changes to its advertisements for Zithromax.
In addition, Pfizer will pay a total of $4 million to the states,
with Maryland receiving $125,000, and will fund public service announcements
in the amount of $2 million during the next three cold seasons (November
through March). The announcements will tell parents that doctors
must consider a number of factors when deciding what medicine to
prescribe, including antibiotic resistance, the ineffectiveness
of antibiotics in combating viral infections, and the need for adherence
to the dosing regimen.
should not demand that their doctor write a prescription for a particular
product based on an advertisement they saw on television,"
Attorney General Curran advised. "Rather, consumers should
discuss all possible treatments and available drugs with their doctor
to arrive at the best decision regarding whether they, or their
children, should take medication in any given situation, and if
so, which one."
the settlement, Pfizer:
may not make representations regarding the dosing convenience or
frequency of Zithromax without making this disclosure: "Your
Doctor will consider many factors when choosing an antibiotic, dosing
convenience is only one of them",
may not compare the effectiveness of Zithromax for treatment of
ear infections to other antibiotics without making this disclosure:
"Antibiotic resistance is a consideration that may affect your
Doctors choice of treatment for your childs ear infection",
must include the following disclosure in all direct-to-consumer
ads promoting Zithromax for ear infections: "Remember that
antibiotics dont work for viral infections, such as a cold
or flu, so don't insist on a prescription for an antibiotic. Only
your doctor can decide what type of infection your child has and
the best way to treat it."
if Zithromax ads relating to dosing convenience, frequency of use
or effectiveness refer to scientific studies, Pfizer must also state
whether the study was published and peer reviewed and whether Pfizer
paid for the study. Pfizer must also, upon request, make a summary
of the study or the full study available to consumers and health
care professionals, as well as posting the study or a summary on
its Internet site.
addition to Maryland, the other states involved in the investigation
and settlement were Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut,
Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North
Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont,
Inc. is incorporated in Delaware, and has its headquarters in New