Bristol-Myers Squibb hires B-M for virology

Bristol-Myers Squibb has enlisted Burson-Marsteller to replace Ruder Finn on UK virology work, including HIV treatment Reyataz.

The agency's London office won a three-way pitch for the brief, which may be expanded to include UK promotion of forthcoming hepatitis B drug entecavir.

The brief also covers HIV treatment Sustiva and BMS-sponsored annual amateur photography competition One Vision, which aims to dispel stereotypes associated with HIV/Aids.

One Vision is a pan-European initiative in its third year and sees BMS teaming up with groups including the National Aids Trust. This year's theme is 'Life Begins Today'.

Entecavir is an oral therapy expected to launch in Europe later this year. It rolled out around nine months ago in the US under the brand name Baraclude.

The hire of B-M follows Ruder Finn's resignation of the HIV account after winning business from an undisclosed rival company, triggering a conflict of interest. It held the HIV brief for two and a half years.

Ruder Finn would only say that its 'HIV team remains active and is now engaged in other projects'. The agency's Paris office will continue to promote One Vision across France.

B-M pitched against HSD Communications and Packer Forbes Communications to land the work.

Monica Shuman, a director, is leading the account at B-M. She formerly worked with Bristol-Myers Squibb in the late 1990s when she was at the then Shire Hall.

This is believed to be the first UK-specific product comms contract that B-M has bagged with the pharma firm. However, B-M London recently worked on a corporate brochure for Bristol-Myers Squibb  and continues to handle global work for its bestselling blood-thinner drug Plavix.

Golin Harris continues to handle PR outside the UK for Reyataz.

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