Merck tenders corporate and political PR

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 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

management.



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

treatment Vioxx.



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