CCA scoops Merck’s Erbitux job from B-M

German firm Merck KgaA has dumped Burson-Marsteller (B-M) and hired Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA) as the international PR agency for its colorectal cancer treatment Erbitux.

The appointment of CCA, which will promote Erbitux across Europe through 2005, comes as three undisclosed agencies scrap it out to secure an international medical education contract to promote the drug.

B-M also formerly held Erbitux’s med ed international account, but is not in the running for the new contract; a decision is expected within three weeks.

Erbitux is licensed for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer but is being investigated for use in the head and neck, and also for lung cancer; it is seen as a potential blockbuster. CCA is aiming to boost awareness of the drug’s potential in targeting aggressive cancer types, particularly those that express the epidermal growth factor receptor.

Erbitux sales are key to Merck KGaA – no relation of US giant Merck & Co – whose core pharma sales have fallen since its diabetes drug Glucophage lost patent protection in 2003. CCA is also promoting Erbitux in Asia and Latin America, but the agency’s account does not apply to North America.

CCA – which first promoted Erbitux on a project basis last year, alongside

B-M – reports to Darmstadt-based global senior marketing manager Dr Petra Maier.

Avenue HKM still promotes Erbitux in the UK.

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