Purple pill on the move: Pfizer moves OTC Nexium to Grey

The purple pill has a new ad agency home. Pfizer moved its OTC heartburn drug Nexium from ad agency Leo Burnett to Grey after a review.

Leo Burnett has had the account since 2013, when Pfizer was taking over from AstraZeneca as the drug moved from prescription to OTC. Adweek reported that the move is meant as a consolidation by Pfizer. Grey has worked with Pfizer since 1995 and already handles the Advil, Emergen-C, Preparation H, Robitussin and ThermaCare brands.

A Pfizer spokeswoman declined comment, telling FiercePharma via email, “We don’t comment on supplier and vendor business relations.”

Pfizer has recently been considering making a move with its consumer unit, according to a Reuters report. Citing unnamed sources, the article stated a deal is not a certainty, only that Pfizer is “evaluating a potential sale or spin-off of its consumer health division that could value the unit at as much as $14 billion.”

Nexium was a blockbuster on patent, but still continues to ring up sales. While protected under AstraZeneca, it took in $3.87 billion in 2013, its last full year without a generic competitor. AstraZeneca then tussled with Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories in 2015 over the use of the color purple for its generic Nexium capsules, ending with the courts agreeing that purple was part of Nexium's trademark.

So far this year, Pfizer has spent $42 million on TV advertising for Nexium, according to data from real-time TV tracker iSpot.tv. Nexium 24HR is the top seller in the OTC heartburn category, according to IRI reported by Drug Store News, with sales of $311 million in the third quarter of 2016.