Public Affairs: ABPI set to bring in agency firepower

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry plans to step up its lobbying and will begin a major trawl for a public affairs agency later this year.

The ABPI represents the majority of the research-based pharma companies operating in the UK. It currently uses Open Road for parliamentary monitoring and project work, but plans to bring in a new agency for a wide-ranging retained public affairs brief.

With the Government planning to overhaul drug pricing, the ABPI is especially keen to boost its lobbying firepower to get its messages across to ministers and officials in the Department of Health. From January 2014, the Government is set to introduce value-based pricing, where new drugs would be priced according to their expected benefits to patients.

ABPI corporate comms director Amanda Callaghan told PRWeek: 'We're about to go into a very intense period of work around medicines pricing.'

She said the ABPI was keen to hire an agency to 'hold a mirror up to our corporate affairs and lobbying strategy'. The successful agency will also carry out 'really specific' pieces of campaigning. Callaghan suggested that the ABPI would kick off a pitch process before Christmas.

The refocusing of its public affairs strategy also reflects recent changes at the top of ABPI; Callaghan joined in February 2010 from the Royal College of Nursing, while CEO Stephen Whitehead arrived in June from Prudential, where he was director of comms.

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