Ketchum bags global bone brief for Actonel

US group Procter & Gamble and Paris-listed Sanofi-Aventis have brought in Ketchum on a global brief to promote their brittle-bone treatment Actonel.

The move comes at a crucial time for Actonel. Merck's Fosamax – the product's long-standing rival – is losing patent protection in major markets, including the UK where it lost protection last year.

P&G and Sanofi-Aventis see 2006 as a crucial year in which to maximise sales of Actonel worldwide.

Other competitors in the lucrative osteoporosis market include Roche/GlaxoSmithKline's Bonviva (promoted by Virgo Health PR).
Ketchum is providing 'global strategic counsel' on Actonel brand comms. It is seeking to promote the message that Actonel protects against bone fractures in the hip, wrist and thigh areas, as well as the spine.

Ketchum group account director Alexander Watson leads a London team that will work with P&G and Sanofi-Aventis affiliates to deliver 'branded media coverage' in various countries.

Hill & Knowlton previously handled global PR efforts for Actonel, running the account out of its New York and Paris offices.

The UK account for Actonel is held by Red Door Communications. The previous agency on the UK account was Cohn & Wolfe.

Ketchum said it had not formerly held such a major contract for a
P&G prescription drug – although it has a long-standing relationship with P&G across consumer brands such as Max Factor and Olay.
 
*  Separately, Ketchum UK health MD Avril Lee has been promoted to European healthcare MD. She retains her UK responsibilities.

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