Public Affairs: AS Biss snaps up Roche account

Roche Diagnostics has awarded its public affairs account to AS Biss & Co as the political parties prepare to trade pledges on cutting NHS waiting list numbers in the election campaign.

It is understood that the company has also appointed Edelman to undertake a perception audit on a project basis.

The Swiss drugs company is a major supplier of diagnostic kit to the NHS and is keen to bolster its relations with policy makers and senior health practitioners and procurers.

AS Biss will provide strategic advice on engaging with relevant Whitehall and health service figures. The agency is also charged with monitoring health policy and anticipating its consequences for Roche.

The Government has pledged to cut NHS waiting times to a maximum of 18 weeks from GP referral to treatment, provided it gets re-elected, by 2008.

The promise aims to address so-called 'hidden waiting lists', which include patients awaiting diagnostic tests, such as MRI scans and X-rays, and puts more onus on diagnostics suppliers.

Roche's expertise lies in the diagnosis of diabetes and heart disease.

AS Biss and Edelman secured their briefs after a competitive pitch. The company has previously used PA agencies on an ad hoc basis.

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