Healthcare: Packer Forbes lands Tracleer UK promotion

Biotech firm Actelion has called in Packer Forbes Communications to handle UK PR for its flagship product - pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) treatment Tracleer.

Packer Forbes beat Sante Communications and incumbent The Workhouse in a pitch to secure the contract - its first for the Swiss-based company.

The agency is handling UK media relations and med ed work to promote the oral treatment, which belongs to a new class of agents - endothelin receptor antagonists (ERAs), an alternative to prostaglandins to treat PAH.

PAH occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the lungs become constricted, limiting blood flow and, ultimately, causing high blood pressure to develop within the lung arteries.

Tracleer, which launched in the UK three years ago, is a twice-daily tablet that does not require a catheter installation or prolonged hospitalisation for therapy initiation.

Packer Forbes MD Alexa Forbes said: 'Our programme will create improved awareness of PAH among non-specialists thereby encouraging the growth of outreach services and better shared care among PAH specialists.'

She added: 'The programme will also aim to generate acceptance of Tracleer as a cornerstone therapy in PAH due to its unique mode of action.'

There is no cure for PAH and treatment is aimed at preventing progression and inducing disease regression.

Untreated PAH has been associated with a median survival of 2.8 years after diagnosis, comparable with the survival rates of lung cancer.

Sante continues to promote Zavesca, Actelion's product for Gaucher Disease, in the UK (PRWeek, 23 April 2004).

Packer Forbes reports to Actelion brand manager Sam Bremner.

Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel said in January that sales of Tracleer could 'double or even triple' if new indications currently being tested are launched.

The company is trialling the drug for the treatment of ulcers on fingers and toes caused by insufficient blood supply and for pulmonary fibrosis, a fatal lung disease.

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