At a glance: Servier osteoporosis drug in survey fillip

What’s the name of the treatment? We’re talking about Protelos (strontium ranelate). French pharma group Servier says a report, published last month, demonstrates that its drug reduces women’s long-term risk of bone fractures by a third.

Osteoporosis results in bones – particularly wrist, spine and hip – becoming so porous that they can break very easily, and affects women more than men.

A significant boost for promoters of Protelos, then...
It definitely gives Athena Medical PR, which holds the UK account for Protelos, and Tonic Life Communications, which has the European brief, something extra to work with. Clara Bentham is Servier's corporate affairs manager, and the company will publish, and subsequently promote, more details on Protelos, probably
by August.

Is there one result highlight for PROs?
There is good data for Protelos across the age spectrum but it has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing risk of fractures in women over 80 – an age group NICE was concerned about in its assessment of strontium ranelate last October.

It sounds a bit of a niche market...
Far from it. A great deal of coverage around care for the elderly (such as last month's report by Sir Derek Wanless for think-tank the King's Fund) brings into sharp relief the fact that the UK has an ageing population. And an estimated 1.1 million women in England and Wales suffer from osteoporosis  – NICE's projected cost of treating them is £2.1bn by 2010.

Who are the PR targets?
Protelos will be promoted as an alternative to established anti-osteoporosis drugs such as Merck's Fosamax or P&G/Sanofi-Aventis's Actonel, the global PR for which has just switched to Ketchum (see above). As well as doctors, medical education work will probably focus on the providers of care-home and respite-care services. Any campaign will also attempt to engage patient groups
such as the National Osteoporosis Society, which has just brought in Somerset-based ADPR to boost its profile (PRWeek, 31 March).

Will Servier be looking for new indications of its drug?
It's possible, but the over-80s fall into the broad category of post-menopausal women, for which Protelos has had a European licence for treatment since 2004.

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