Clew gains restless legs brief from GSK

GlaxoSmithKline has appointed healthcare PR boutique Clew Communications to raise awareness of a drug it plans to market to combat a disease known as restless legs syndrome (RLS).

Clew’s fees are believed to be around £200,000 for an initial one-year programme, which will have an overall budget of approximately £500,000, for the new indication of ropinirole, which is expected to be launched for RLS next year.

Clew secured the remit after a pitch understood to have been against Athena Medical PR, CPR UK and Packer Forbes Communications.

Clew – the agency co-founded two years ago by Chris Mihill, a former medical correspondent on The Guardian – will handle disease awareness work, targeting audiences such as GPs and neurologists.

RLS is a potentially debilitating neurological disorder characterised by an uncontrollable urge to move the legs. Because symptoms can often appear during rest in the evening or at night, RLS can lead to major sleep disturbances.

Ropinirole has not yet been approved for the treatment of RLS but is currently approved and marketed – as ReQuip – for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.

Studies have suggested that RLS affects anything between five and ten per cent of the adult population.

Mihill said: ‘The challenge is that neither doctors nor the public have heard of the disease.’

Prior to The Guardian, where he worked for eight years, Mihill held the same post at the now defunct Today newspaper. He founded Second Opinion Communication Consultancy, a forerunner to Clew, in 1998.

Mihill co-founded Clew alongside Mary Hicks, who he worked alongside at SOCC. This RLS contract is Clew’s first for GSK.

GSK will need approval from the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) in order to market the drug’s RLS indication.

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