INTERNATIONAL: APCO to handle pharma federation remit

GENEVA: The International Federation of Pharmaceutical

Manufacturers has taken on APCO Worldwide to handle communications

surrounding the global debate on medicine trade policy.



APCO UK will oversee reputation management on the pan-European brief,

which is to be co-ordinated by APCO's dedicated global trade practice

group in Geneva.



APCO Europe chairman Brad Staples said the appointment was recognition

by IFMPA of the complexities and pressures involved in the WTO's

decision-making.



'The provision of ongoing strategic advice is at the heart of the

programme, but the success will demand use of a broad range of creative

communications tools and media, including the online world,' said

Staples.



APCO was appointed ahead of a round of trade negotiations on drug

patenting and pricing, beginning with the current WTO ministerial

conference in Qatar.



Reputation management will figure high on APCO's brief as the global

pharmaceutical industry attempts to reassert its authority after the

South African Aids drug controversy.



In March, the world's largest drug companies were forced to abandon

their legal action against the South African government, which sought to

import cheaper generic drugs to fight HIV/Aids and other diseases.



The suit, by 39 pharmaceutical companies, argued South Africa's

legislation infringed their patent rights - but the legal action was

criticised for encouraging governments across the developing world to

use the law to obtain cheaper drugs.



The companies faced having to reveal some closely guarded business

secrets, including pricing policies, profit levels and the source of

funding for research into key anti-Aids drugs.



Their high-profile withdrawal was seen an attempt to stave off a PR

disaster.



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