Three agencies in scrap for Wyeth Tygacil UK job

US-based drugs giant Wyeth is planning to further bolster the PR clout behind its Tygacil brand and is staging a pitch for UK PR support.

Three agencies are to scrap it out for a UK contract to promote the drug – an injectable antibiotic that may represent a major advance in the treatment of serious hospital-based infections such as ‘superbug’ MRSA.

The UK office of Ketchum, Tygacil’s retained global agency, is bidding to secure the contract, alongside Healthcare Solutions and Axon Communications.

Tygacil (tigecycline) is in phase III clinical trials, but Wyeth has said it works as well as the ‘gold-standard’ vancomycin in treating serious infections, without the bacterial resistance found in other commonly used antibiotics. The drug is expected to launch in late 2005 or early 2006.

Wyeth corporate affairs director Gill Markham and comms manager Sarah Taylor are involved in co-ordinating the pitch from the firm’s UK HQ near Slough.

Ketchum scooped the global PR contract to promote the product in June (PRWeek, 25 June), beating Porter Novelli and Burson-Marsteller in a pitch process held at Wyeth’s global HQ in Pennsylvania. Ketchum’s Washington office is leading a multi-bureau team in the provision of congress support and opinion-leader development.

MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, but is shorthand for any strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that is resistant to one or more conventional antibiotic. It causes serious infections of operation wounds and pneumonia and kills around 5,000 hospital patients a year in the UK.

Wyeth unveiled a crop of pre-launch drugs to investment analysts in the US earlier this year.

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