Commentary: Why Drugmakers Prescribed An Ad Blitz

It's the drug industry's version of Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace. The most widely heralded new drug of 1999 is Celebrex, an arthritis treatment from Monsanto Co. Press reports are playing up the torrid demand--881,000 prescriptions in seven weeks. Indeed, these days hot drug launches get as much buzz as opening weekend box-office receipts. Says HSBC Securities analyst Jack Lamberton: "It's no different than a movie."

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