Merck Sharp and Dohme, part of the world’s largest pharmaceutical
company, is expanding its use of corporate and public affairs agencies
in response to new NHS legislation.
Merck has tendered three briefs and has or is about to hear pitches from
Burson-Marsteller, The Communication Group, GPC, Edelman PR Worldwide,
Hill and Knowlton and Shire Hall.
The first brief is to manage Merck Sharp and Dohme’s (MSD) relationship
with GPs and their patients. The second is to help MSD manage the issue
of drug spending, and its relationships with primary care groups, health
bodies, trade associations and the government. The third brief, for
which an agency is believed to have been selected, is for issues
Among the changes introduced by July’s NHS Act that concern MSD was the
abolition of GP fundholding. GPs were previously responsible for their
own spend, but their budgets, along with budgets for the hospital
treatment of patients, are passing to so-called primary care groups. One
concern for those who hold the purse strings will be to use cheaper
generic, rather than branded drugs.
GPC is Merck’s retained corporate and public affairs agency, and this
relationship is likely to remain in place.
MSD has had several new product launches in the UK this year, including
myocardial infarcation-revention drug Aggrastat and osteoarthritis