INTERNATIONAL: Cohn & Wolfe wins Allegra US and e-business remits

NEW YORK: Cohn & Wolfe has been named US agency of record for the

blockbuster drug Allegra, made by Aventis Pharmaceuticals, just in time

for the hayfever season.

The agency has also won Aventis's e-business account.

The incumbent US agency for Allegra, Porter-Novelli, will keep the

international business.

An Aventis spokesperson was not available for comment.

C&W pitched for the US business against Burson-Marsteller, which was

chosen as Aventis's agency of record in the Latin American region last

autumn (PRWeek, 22 September 2000).

Ketchum competed for the e-business side. Each account is said to be

worth over pounds 700,000.

Competition in the hayfever drug market is fierce.

Allegra and Schering Plough's product Claritin are two of the top

brands, with sales in 2000 of pounds 1.1bn and pounds 2.1bn


'As it is highly competitive, reporters want to hear about the sector

and that makes (PR) easy,' said Donna Imperato, C&W's New York chief


Allegra and Claritin are also both fending off health insurers' attempts

to reclassify them as over-the-counter drugs, as they are in other parts

of the world.

California health insurer Wellpoint Health Networks is pushing the Food

and Drug Administration to make the drugs more widely available to

patients, claiming they are safer than many of the other hayfever drugs

already sold over-the-counter in pharmacies.

As part of its bid for the business, C&W has already devised a campaign

for Allegra to sponsor mountain climber and hayfever sufferer Eric

Weihenmayer's quest to be the first blind person to summit Mount


Allegra is one of Aventis' most recognised brands and has captured a

market share in the States of over 20 per cent. Allegra and the two

other top-selling prescription hayfever drugs Claritin and Zirtec are

said to have had combined US sales of pounds 3.2bn last year.

Aventis is also mounting an e-business push that will increase the use

of the internet for dispensing prescriptions and selling products.

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