GSK in agency shake-up for diabetes brand drive

GlaxoSmithKline is to shake up the PR support behind its diabetes medication Avandamet by splitting the brand’s UK PR account between a duo of start-up independent healthcare shops.

Virgo Health PR and Clew Communications were this week on the verge of sealing contracts to promote Avandamet, a brand that launched at the end of last year in the UK.

A GSK spokeswoman confirmed that Virgo and Clew were set to secure the business but stressed that contracts had yet to be signed. Virgo will handle relations with the medical press having won a four-way pitch last month.

Clew, meanwhile, sealed its contract without a pitch and, according to agency co-founder Chris Mihill, will handle disease-awareness work on the link between obesity and diabetes.

Avandamet is for people with type-2 diabetes who have not been able to control their blood sugar with diet, exercise and metformin – the most widely-prescribed oral anti-diabetes drug in the UK – or who are taking GSK’s Avandia and metformin as separate pills.

The account has been held for the past two years by Chandler Chicco Agency, which handled media relations surrounding Avandamet’s launch at the end of last year.

Clew already works for GSK but this appointment signals Virgo’s first contract with the firm.

Avandia itself launched as a treatment for type-2 diabetes four years ago.

GSK has hit the headlines in the past fortnight over its plan to publish what is has called its Clinical Trial Register (PRWeek, 25 June).

News Analysis, p17

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