Insight Public Affairs grabs hepatitis C drugs brief

Bristol-Myers Squibb has brought in Insight Public Affairs as it prepares to launch its first hepatitis C drugs in the UK.

Hepatitis drugs development: Bristol-Myers Squibb
Hepatitis drugs development: Bristol-Myers Squibb

The American pharma firm has turned to agency help as it prepares to smooth the regulatory path for two as-yet unnamed drugs to be launched in 2015. The drugs are part of a suite of eight products currently in development.

Current drugs used to treat hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral infection that can lead to liver failure, commonly give rise to unpleasant flu-like symptoms and depression.

The three-year retained brief is believed to include public affairs and stakeholder management to pave the way for the drugs’ entry into the market.

The agency has also been briefed to move hepatitis up the political agenda, while providing insight into the UK policy environment. Insight, which has previously won oncology work from BMS, has additionally been charged with providing workshops and brainstorming sessions for the internal BMS comms team.

The work will start on 2 January and finish at the end of the NICE appraisal process, which is anticipated to take between two and three years.

BMS declined to comment and Insight Public Affairs’ MD John Lehal declined to confirm the appointment.

The news comes after BMS suffered a major blow in August when it was forced to halt development of another of its hepatitis C drugs in the US after nine participants in a clinical trial were hospitalised and one died.

The cancelled drug, BMS-986094, was created after BMS bought Inhibitex, a Georgia-based firm that had developed the compound, for £1.55bn.

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