Santé wins Actelion Gaucher Disease PR

Swiss-based biotech firm Actelion has appointed its first UK PR agency to promote Zavesca, a product that tackles Gaucher Disease – a rare and debilitating condition that affects patients’ ability to break down fat.

Santé Communications won a three-way pitch to secure a contract to promote Zavesca via a national and regional awareness programme that will use patient group liaison and media relations.

Gaucher Disease is most common in Ashkenazi Jews and media relations work will focus on the press in London, Manchester and Glasgow, plus Jewish news organs.

Santé beat The Workhouse and Oxford PharmaGenesis in a three-way shootout for the contract. The Workhouse continues to promote Tracleer, Actelion’s tablet for pulmonary hypertension.

Gaucher Disease is a rare storage disorder that results in the build-up of fat around major organs and bone-marrow.

Zavesca, which launched in the UK 12 months ago, prevents and reduces this build-up and is the only oral therapy approved to treat the condition.

Common symptoms include an enlarged liver and spleen, and blood or orthopaedic (spine or joint) problems.

There are three clinical forms of Gaucher Disease – types 1, 2 and 3 – with 1 being the most common. Zavesca treats type 1 Gaucher Disease in patients for whom enzyme-replacement therapy is unsuitable. Zavesca’s rival brand is Genzyme’s more established treatment Cerezyme, which is administered as an injection.

London-based Zavesca product manager Sam Stannard, to whom the agency reports, said: ‘We have previously targeted doctors but we now want to raise awareness of this alternative oral therapy to patients themselves.’

Santé will promote Zavesca until December, when its contract will be reviewed.

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