WASHINGTON — Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. is trying to convince doctors that the best drug for children's ear infections is not the cheap, proven antibiotic the government recommends, but Pfizer's own pricey product.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in January that amoxicillin should be doctors' first choice for treating ear infections, which account for 25 million visits to doctors' offices each year.
The CDC ranked Pfizer's competing Zithromax among other antibiotics that "lack good evidence" for effectiveness against ear infections.
But the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen uncovered a schedule for Pfizer teleconferences targeted at doctors nationwide "to counter the CDC guidelines."
"We urge you to inform the nation's pediatricians . . . of this campaign so they are not duped into draining the Medicaid program of needed resources and of wasting large amounts of money on treating other patients with this needlessly expensive and second-rate drug for ear infections," the advocacy group said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.