TOP 50 HEALTHCARE PR: Table-topper MAC's largest reported win was a pounds 1m-plus AstraZeneca account

1 MEDICAL ACTION COMMUNICATIONS - pounds 10,200,000



MAC retains the top slot, but after impressive year-on-year growth in

1999, 2000 was something of a disappointment with only three per cent

growth. MAC managing director Smita Desai claims the small growth was

due to several factors.



'It was largely the result of reduced budgets for some mature-product

accounts, and product licence delays for new product launches which

resulted in reduced spend,' she explains.



The agency is not forthcoming about new client wins, but Desai concedes:

'We took our eye off the ball with regards to new business development,

and this clearly affected our ability to grow'.



Largest reported win for MAC was a pounds 1m-plus account from

AstraZeneca to promote its asthma drug Pulmicort globally.



Key management changes include the departure of CEO Gary Hobbs last

September 'to pursue other business interests'. New Jersey-based Chris

O'Toole was promoted to MAC president, reporting to Robert Blink, who

was made CEO of parent company Quintiles Medical Communication. Desai

became MAC managing director, reporting to O'Toole, after Hobbs'

departure.



During the year, MAC took part in various joint activities with its

parent, including offering a range of Quintiles' services, which include

health policy and pricing plus re-imbursement consultancy to its

clients.



Desai admits that 2000 was 'challenging', but remains confident for the

future. The agency has restructured into a 'more customer-focused

organisation' through the creation of two client service units, which

Desai states are 'empowered with the authority and responsibility to

drive organic growth.'



2 THE SHIRE HALL GROUP - pounds 7,019,000



Shire Hall attributes a significant part of its 19 per cent growth in

fee income to global expansion and high client retention rates.



The agency opened a US office in New Jersey in November, giving close

access to several pharmaceutical industry giants. 'Our strategy is to

operate at a global level,' comments business development director,

Gloria Gibbons.



'The growth at Shire Hall International is testament to this, as is the

launch of our US office, and the dramatic shift in the balance of

business to international clients at 4D Communications,' she adds.



4D, which provides medical education and marketing support for products

from phase II onwards, achieved a client retention rate of 92 per

cent.



Shire Hall Communications reported an even more impressive 100 per cent

rate.



International wins included the pre-launch programme for AstraZeneca's

oncology treatment Iressa. Other pharmaceutical industry wins included

pre-launch programmes for Novartis UK's IBS product Zelmac, and

Lundbeck's migraine remedy Almogran. Outside the pharmaceutical arena,

new clients included The National Asthma Campaign and Eagle Star UK's

web community justfornurses.com.



Following the merger between Glaxo and SmithKline, Shire Hall lost its

account in the HIV field. Other losses included GlaxoSmithKline's IBS

treatment Lotronex, and Phillips after a product failed to come to

fruition.



To support its growing international portfolio, Shire Hall developed its

internal media facilities into a Global Media Unit staffed by

ex-broadcast journalists. Two new board directors were appointed -

Antonia Betts at SH International and Elen Davies at SH Communications -

while SHI managing director Peter Field retired.



3. MEDITECH MEDIA - pounds 4,700,000



On the face of it, a 19 per cent increase in fee income looks healthy

enough. However, for healthcare specialist Meditech Media, it

represented a big drop on more than 30 per cent growth in 1998-99.



But David Milton, who joined as chief operating officer from Novartis

Pharmaceuticals last June, is not disappointed. He says that, as the

group expands abroad, the UK's share of work will inevitably shrink.



The company has 300 staff at offices in the UK, US and South-East

Asia.



'Whereas London had been doing work on the overseas offices' behalf,

they are now big enough to do it themselves,' he explains. Still, he

sees annual growth continuing around the 20 per cent mark.



Another reason for a dip this year may be that the latter part of 2000

was spent on tenterhooks awaiting the merger which would form

GlaxoSmithKline. Meditech worked for both parties previously.



'A few things were put on ice and a number of campaigns slowed down,'

Milton says. But he claims that the group suffered no overall loss from

the process. Its main area of expertise is in virus treatment, such as

HIV products for Roche, and biotech for Gilead.



'Our clients tend to be at the heavy end of the healthcare sector, so we

don't do a great deal of things like media relations,' he says. 'It is

more professional relations, with key opinion-formers, stakeholders in

government and the financial and scientific press.' Organic growth is

the short-term priority, and Meditech plans to move into therapeutic

areas other than viruses - such as psychiatry and neurology - via

existing clients.



5 AVENUE HKM - pounds 3,599,000



Formed in January 2000, Avenue HKM (which stands for health knowledge

management) appears to have come from nowhere into this year's league

tables with a fee income of pounds 3.6m.



In fact, it is the result of a merger between two Blackwell Publishing

companies, Blackwell Healthcare and Bullet Communications.



Chief executive officer Joanna Marchant joined Blackwell Healthcare as

executive director in September 1999, just before the merger and name

change.



Explaining the background to the move, Marchant says: 'Blackwell tended

to work on global programmes in the early phase of a product's life

cycle, while Bullet was pre-launch, launch, media relations, that sort

of thing.



We could have grown them in parallel but they are so complementary that

it made strategic sense to merge,' she says. 'Both had good heritage

with clients.'



Last year, there was no particular emphasis on new business - bedding in

existing accounts and staff was deemed more important - although the

combined organisation did find time to win seven accounts. These include

work on Celebrex for Pharmacia and Roaccutane, a dermatological

project.



'We knew we were facing operational challenges: the accounts came late

in the year and I would expect them to deliver more in 2001,' Marchant

continues. 'The international side is a key focus for us and we are now

in a position to take it forward.'



Most of the agency's 60 staff worked for either company although a few

left before the merger, she admits. 'Some people decided it wasn't for

them.' But Avenue is recruiting, and last year Clare Lucker joined as

programme director from an agency background into what Marchant

describes as a 'fluid' management structure.



9 COHN & WOLFE - pounds 2,606,757



Cohn & Wolfe's healthcare division saw a substantial rise in fee income

of 53 per cent to more that pounds 2.6m in 2000. It also picked up four

awards in the Pharmaceutical Marketing Communique Awards, including

Agency of the Year.



According to Angie Wiles, executive director healthcare, C&W was

successful in winning 18 pieces of new business. 'We secured almost 80

per cent of the business we went after in a competitive situation,' she

explains.



This included work for Novartis on its asthma treatment Xolair, expected

to launch in 2002. C&W also won business from Roche International for

influenza drug Tamiflu, which is in its pre-launch phase, and a

beta-blocker, Carvedilol. The agency now handles both international and

UK work for both products.



2000 saw the launch of the NHS and policy relations division, in the

wake of the introduction of NICE. Its aim is to target policy-makers at

national and local level.'



Commenting on the focus for 2001, Wiles says: 'We are looking at a

growth strategy based on offering increased specialisation within a

large team.'



The agency has just launched C&W Healthcare Interactive, an on-line

media distribution service to target relevant groups.



Staff numbers grew by 50 per cent, from internal promotions, plus the

arrival of Shairose Ibrahim, account director, from MAC.



15 ATHENA MEDICAL - pounds 1,760,000



Set up in November 1997, healthcare specialist Athena Medical enjoyed

two years of growth, with a further 47 per cent rise in fee income to

pounds 1.76m. According to managing director Cherry Slater the agency

won seven pitches. These wins included global work for Nicorettes, the

nicotine replacement treatment - the company's only non-ethical account.

Its manufacturer, Pharmacia, has tended to focus on the consumer market,

but with smoking linked to a variety of diseases, it makes sense to

target health professionals too. 'They want to look more at medical

audiences, to address the clinical side of things,' says Slater.



Athena's biggest client in 2000 was privately-owned Italian

pharmaceutical group Menarin. Others include AstraZeneca and

GlaxoSmithKline. More than half the agency's work is in medical

education. Slater herself has in-house experience, setting up

AstraZeneca's PR department in 1994, following spells at Shire Hall and

Lowe Fusion.



For the future, media relations will be more of a focus. 'We are keen to

build up what we're doing on the media side; there has been a trend to

shy away,' Slater says. With this in mind, the agency hired its first

media director, Julie Dixon, in January 2001. And staff retention has

been exceptional; in almost three years no one has left the agency.

Along with business growth, Slater hopes this is another trend that will

continue.



18 LOWE FUSION HEALTHCARE - pounds 1,328,365



After 1999, when fee income fell by 11 per cent, Lowe Fusion held its

own in 2000 with a marginal year-on-year increase of one per cent. This

was despite a key client halting its development of a major new product

early in the second quarter of the year.



'This account would have contributed about 30 per cent of our predicted

fee income for the year. These things happen in the pharmaceutical

arena, but it was a sudden and unexpected loss of income,' says managing

director, Julia Cook.



New business included an international medical education programme for

Roche's rheumatoid arthritis product Trocade, and an international brief

for Elan's NeuroBloc dystonias product.



The agency was appointed by Novartis as the pharmaceutical company's

preferred supplier for opinion-leader development programmes, working

most notably in transplantation. Novartis Pharma UK appointed LFH to

work on customer relationship programmes spanning clinical trials and

medical education.



The appointment of NHS author and consultant Carolyn Semple Piggot

enabled Lowe Fusion to broaden and strengthen its NHS activities. A

specialist new media facility was also set up.



Cook adds: 'Overall, there was insignificant growth in fee income in

2000, but it also means that projections for 2001 are promising, with a

20 per cent increase in fee income forecast.'



19 CHANDLER CHICCO AGENCY - pounds 1,228,789



The agency set itself a very ambitious target for 2000. Healthcare

specialist Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA) managing director Jennie Talman

says: It was our third year in business and we felt it had to be the

year we made our mark. In terms of profile, you could be seen as a

smallish agency that does some nice work, but isn't one of the key

players. You begin to get pigeonholed and we didn't want that to

happen.'



With a fee income of pounds 1.2m and 20 people, the agency has been one

of the fastest-growing of the year.



The key aspect of this large rise was global growth. The company built a

strong relationship with Novartis in a short space of time, gaining four

accounts with the group as well as new business with AstraZeneca.



For the future, growth strategy remains essentially organic. Clients are

increasingly keen on new ways of communicating, and not simply relying

on patient groups, Talman says: 'The power of word-of-mouth marketing is

highly prized. It is enormous; it's the future of reaching

patients.'



Talman says that one of the agency's focuses in the coming year will be

identifying, and tapping into, the ways in which thirtysomething women,

for example, talk to each other about treatments and remedies.



20 SANTE COMMUNICATIONS - pounds 1,038,510



A 33 per cent increase saw fee income top the pounds 1m mark for ethical

and complex healthcare issues specialist Sante Communications. Some

major new business wins fuelled the growth. TNK handed the agency a

six-figure account working on a new clot-busting drug for heart

attacks.



Sante beat four rivals to land Schering-Plough's oncology portfolio,

which included launching ovarian cancer product Caelyx and assisting in

the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) review for

Temodal.



Existing client GlaxoSmithKline increased its spend. Other work for

retained clients included the launch of Actonel for the Alliance for

Better Bone Health and a DTC campaign for Procter & Gamble with the

National Osteoporosis Society.



Two key appointments also helped Sante to grow. Janine Hogan, ex-head of

PR at Roche, joined as executive director, while Health Secretary Alan

Milburn's former PRO Andrew Harrison became account director.



The agency continued to offer NHS advice, but increased its level of

NICE consultancy to clients. 'Our strategy has been to capitalise on the

changes that have been happening in the marketplace, such as NICE, or a

changing global perspective on a particular health issue,' says managing

director Liz Shanahan.



23 WEBER SHANDWICK - pounds 868,000



For Weber Shandwick, 2000 looks like a year the agency's healthcare

practice would rather forget. A whopping 58 per cent dip saw fee income

tumble to pounds 868,000.



'We have had difficulties recruiting people in the healthcare area,'

admits Chris Genasi, chief executive corporate, consumer and

healthcare.



'And there has been a reduction in the ethical side, which tends to be

higher fee. That explains a fair amount of the reduction (in fee

income).'



But the underlying reason for the decline is that healthcare has not

been a recent priority for the agency, he continues: 'You do need to

invest to grow a practice area. The key to success is good quality

senior people; when you have them, the business tends to follow.'



Clare Davidson, who was running the consumer and healthcare businesses,

left in December and Genasi took them over in addition to his corporate

brief at the start of 2001.



He says: 'One of my jobs is to rebuild that healthcare business. It's

been a year when we haven't focused on that area and the clients are

virtually all gone.'



Only one, pacemaker manufacturer Medtronic, has been retained. Weber

Shandwick's three-person healthcare team works on four accounts overall,

including two GlaxoSmithKline brands.



'Our income will continue to stay low for a while,' Genasi predicts.



'Growth will come from OTC work.' He says the agency is keen to adopt a

pan-European approach to healthcare, using the group's PROs in other

countries to work on accounts: 'Clients are increasingly looking for a

European response and I think that's the way ahead.'



24 JO SPINK PR - pounds 731,864



Fee income at consumer healthcare specialist Jo Spink PR grew by a

spectacular 127 per cent. 'Growth was mainly organic, primarily through

offering a wider range of communication services to existing clients,'

explains director Jo Spink. 'An acceleration in the industry's desire

for real consumer expertise ensured we were able to secure a more

substantial percentage of clients' marketing budgets.'



During the last year, the agency has developed a broader marketing

communications role, taking on more design, print and POS work, website

development, and advertising co-ordination.



Existing client Johnson & Johnson MSD Consumer Pharmaceuticals appointed

the agency on a six-figure brief to handle a major gastro launch,

bringing the portfolio of J&J OTC healthcare brands handled by the

agency to eight.



Collagen Aesthetics, part of the Inamed Group, also expanded the

agency's brief to include work on the international account for Collagen

Instant Therapy, an anti-ageing treatment. There was an increase in

media and lobbying work too from Biogen during NICE's appraisal of its

multiple sclerosis drug beta-interferon 1A.



The agency's biggest client win was consumer healthcare website

NetDoctor.co.uk. The site was ranked as the fourth most successful

internet venture in The Sunday Times Top 100 e-business list last

year.



Jo Spink strengthened its management team, appointing Jon Cope,

previously Health Education Authority PRO, as account director. Three

account managers, Helen Hammond, Kirstie Mackenzie, and Julia Clough,

also joined.



'It appears everyone is jumping on the DTC bandwagon. JSPR has been

targeting healthcare consumers for over ten years,' observes Spink.



26 MYRIAD PUBLIC RELATIONS - pounds 673,992



Cambridgeshire-based Myriad had an excellent year as fee income climbed

102 per cent. Managing director Steve Weaving says: 'Our substantial

growth over the last 12 months reflects the culmination of a number of

planned activities with existing clients combined with new business

wins'.



The agency took on an increasing amount of international work, including

a campaign for existing client, SSL International, the maker of Durex

condoms, to promote a global sex survey in 30 countries.



'Clients are increasingly experiencing the demonstrable financial and PR

benefits of rolling an appropriate PR initiative out internationally,'

comments Weaving.



Another existing client, 3M Health Care, also increased its spend to

include corporate communications on new products, such as surgical

drapes and gowns, dressings, stethoscopes and and respirators.



Myriad found itself well placed to take advantage of the 'Cambridge

phenomenon', the growth in healthcare companies in the Cambridge area.

New clients included ERBI - the Eastern Region Biotechnology Initiative

- the umbrella group for a cluster of biotech companies in the region,

and hi-tech products inventor Sentec and its spin-off company Smart Bead

Technologies.



'Our strategy for the future is not only to continue to work with our

larger multinational clients, but also to focus on the rich seam of

smaller and still developing companies coming into existence in the

Cambridge region,' says Weaving.



'While some of these may be relatively small, they show huge potential

for growth with a corresponding potential for increased PR activity,' he

adds.



39 BMA COMMUNICATIONS - pounds 214,345



BMA Communications' healthcare division had what can only be described

as a very disappointing year as fee income dropped by a dramatic 48 per

cent.



'We have excellent credentials in healthcare, but as an agency we

neglected to do much to promote these last year, putting more emphasis

on our growing FMCG, retail and consumer business,' comments managing

director Jane Beechey.



'That was a mistake on our part and we intend to do more to communicate

our experience in direct to consumer and cause-related marketing this

year,' she adds.



Although healthcare fee income dropped, the agency reports that no

clients were actually lost. Beechey attributes the decline in fee income

to 'reduction in client budgets'. She says some clients opted to do more

work in-house, while others concentrated their activities in areas

outside BMA's core competencies, which are POM (prescription-only

medicines), OTC and cause-related projects in key therapy areas.



Among the new work for existing clients was the launch of two POM

products for Schwarz Pharma. These were the anti-allergenic product

Moraxin, and palliative care treatment Mizollan.



BMA was also called to provide maternity cover for the corporate

communications function for Boehringer Ingelheim, the world's largest

independent pharmaceutical company.



For 2001, Beechey is confident the agency is well placed to take

advantage of developments in healthcare PR: 'The benefit of PR, beyond

primary healthcare and opinion-former activities, is not yet fully

appreciated by pharmaceutical businesses. This will change as

direct-to-consumer opportunities become recognised by them.'



- To support its growing international portfolio, Shire Hall developed

its internal media facilities into a Global Media Unit staffed by

ex-broadcast journalists. Two new board directors were appointed -

Antonia Betts at SH International and Elen Davies at SH Communications -

while SHI managing director Peter Field retired



- Last year, there was no particular emphasis on new business for

newcomer Avenue HKM - bedding in existing accounts and staff was deemed

more important - although the combined organisation did find time to win

seven accounts. These include work on Celebrex for Pharmacia and

Roaccutane, a dermatological project



- Lowe Fusion Healthcare was appointed by Novartis as the pharmaceutical

company's preferred supplier for opinion-leader development programmes,

working most notably in transplantation. Novartis Pharma UK appointed

LFH to work on customer relationship programmes spanning clinical trials

and medical education



- Broad-based healthcare specialist Galliard Healthcare Communications

attracted heavyweight clients, including Merck Sharp & Dohme which

handed three six-figure accounts to the agency encompassing professional

relations and product media support, while AstraZeneca gave it six

accounts including oncology mapping. Other wins were Roche, Tissue

Science Labs and Pfizer



- Cambridgeshire-based Myriad had an excellent year as fee income

climbed 102 per cent. The agency found itself well placed to take

advantage of the 'Cambridge phenomenon', the growth in healthcare

companies in the Cambridge area. New clients included ERBI - the Eastern

Region Biotechnology Initiative - the umbrella group for a cluster of

biotech companies in the region, and hi-tech products inventor Sentec

and its spin-off company Smart Bead Technologies.



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