Novartis wants to ensure each agency's performance meets more clearly defined 'performance standards'.
Basel-based global director of pharma comms Eric Althoff played down the significance of the review, saying it was no more than
a 'fine-tuning' of agency relations.
He said: 'We routinely evaluate our agencies. We want to ensure we are working with the best talent.'
However, he added: 'Our pharma comms group has historically focused on internal comms. Now we are aiming to be more externally focused.'
Althoff said the review, which involves procurement and comms staff, had no definite timescale and was simply 'ongoing'.
Its aim is to identify which agencies, and agency staff, have the most appropriate experience in different therapeutic areas and ensure they are able to achieve 'key performance indicators' in their work.
Agency sources believe little change is likely in respect of which firms Novartis will use in the short and medium term. Its UK PR team said its own, separate relations with agencies on UK-specific contracts were not being reviewed.
Novartis drugs include high-profile cardiovascular brand Diovan. The company's second-quarter results were better than expected, with profits up nine per cent, driven by sales of both Diovan and cancer treatment Gleevec.