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Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. is trying to convince doctors the best drug for children's ear infections is not amoxicillin, the cheap, proven antibiotic the government recommends, but Pfizer's own pricey product, Zithromax.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in January that amoxicillin should be doctors' first choice for treating ear infections, and ranked Pfizer's 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 promote Zithromax.

"We urge you to inform the nation's pediatricians . . . of this campaign so they are not duped into . . . wasting large amounts of money on treating other patients with this needlessly expensive and second-rate drug," the advocacy group said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.

A Pfizer spokeswoman defended the campaign, saying the Food and Drug Administration had approved Zithromax for treating ear infections.

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