NEWS: PR offensive to counter cut-price medicines

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are planning a PR offensive to protect resale price maintenance (RPM) on over-the-counter medicines following Asda’s campaign to slash vitamin prices last year.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are planning a PR offensive to protect

resale price maintenance (RPM) on over-the-counter medicines following

Asda’s campaign to slash vitamin prices last year.



The Proprietary Association of Great Britain, industry body to 95 per

cent of OTC manufacturers, is expected to appoint either Hill and

Knowlton or Charles Barker this week to run a high-profile public

affairs programme.



The winning agency will campaign on behalf of PAGB members, including

Seven Seas and Roche, outlining the benefits of RPM legislation in the

light of an investigation by the Office of Fair Trading.



The OFT’s investigation into the 32-year old law was prompted by Asda’s

move to discount its branded vitamins by 20 per cent last October.



Seven Seas and Roche both took legal action against the supermarket

gaining an injunction to restore original prices but the incident raised

questions over the law’s viability. The agency will handle a high-

profile campaign aimed at politicians, the trade and general public

outlining the dangers of dismantling the law, liaising with the in-house

PR divisions of PAGB members.



This includes the argument that fierce competition from supermarkets

will force independent pharmacists to close, disadvantaging rural areas.



The PAGB is also claiming that customers’ choice will be restricted as

supermarkets favour popular brands. The length of the contract will

depend on the outcome of the OFT review in the summer.



A spokesman for the PAGB said its members had not been well represented

in the Asda case and it was time to ‘put the industry point of view

across in a positive way.’



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