1 MEDICAL ACTION COMMUNICATIONS - pounds 10,200,000
MAC retains the top slot, but after impressive year-on-year growth in
1999, 2000 was something of a disappointment with only three per cent
growth. MAC managing director Smita Desai claims the small growth was
due to several factors.
'It was largely the result of reduced budgets for some mature-product
accounts, and product licence delays for new product launches which
resulted in reduced spend,' she explains.
The agency is not forthcoming about new client wins, but Desai concedes:
'We took our eye off the ball with regards to new business development,
and this clearly affected our ability to grow'.
Largest reported win for MAC was a pounds 1m-plus account from
AstraZeneca to promote its asthma drug Pulmicort globally.
Key management changes include the departure of CEO Gary Hobbs last
September 'to pursue other business interests'. New Jersey-based Chris
O'Toole was promoted to MAC president, reporting to Robert Blink, who
was made CEO of parent company Quintiles Medical Communication. Desai
became MAC managing director, reporting to O'Toole, after Hobbs'
During the year, MAC took part in various joint activities with its
parent, including offering a range of Quintiles' services, which include
health policy and pricing plus re-imbursement consultancy to its
Desai admits that 2000 was 'challenging', but remains confident for the
future. The agency has restructured into a 'more customer-focused
organisation' through the creation of two client service units, which
Desai states are 'empowered with the authority and responsibility to
drive organic growth.'
2 THE SHIRE HALL GROUP - pounds 7,019,000
Shire Hall attributes a significant part of its 19 per cent growth in
fee income to global expansion and high client retention rates.
The agency opened a US office in New Jersey in November, giving close
access to several pharmaceutical industry giants. 'Our strategy is to
operate at a global level,' comments business development director,
'The growth at Shire Hall International is testament to this, as is the
launch of our US office, and the dramatic shift in the balance of
business to international clients at 4D Communications,' she adds.
4D, which provides medical education and marketing support for products
from phase II onwards, achieved a client retention rate of 92 per
Shire Hall Communications reported an even more impressive 100 per cent
International wins included the pre-launch programme for AstraZeneca's
oncology treatment Iressa. Other pharmaceutical industry wins included
pre-launch programmes for Novartis UK's IBS product Zelmac, and
Lundbeck's migraine remedy Almogran. Outside the pharmaceutical arena,
new clients included The National Asthma Campaign and Eagle Star UK's
web community justfornurses.com.
Following the merger between Glaxo and SmithKline, Shire Hall lost its
account in the HIV field. Other losses included GlaxoSmithKline's IBS
treatment Lotronex, and Phillips after a product failed to come to
To support its growing international portfolio, Shire Hall developed its
internal media facilities into a Global Media Unit staffed by
ex-broadcast journalists. Two new board directors were appointed -
Antonia Betts at SH International and Elen Davies at SH Communications -
while SHI managing director Peter Field retired.
3. MEDITECH MEDIA - pounds 4,700,000
On the face of it, a 19 per cent increase in fee income looks healthy
enough. However, for healthcare specialist Meditech Media, it
represented a big drop on more than 30 per cent growth in 1998-99.
But David Milton, who joined as chief operating officer from Novartis
Pharmaceuticals last June, is not disappointed. He says that, as the
group expands abroad, the UK's share of work will inevitably shrink.
The company has 300 staff at offices in the UK, US and South-East
'Whereas London had been doing work on the overseas offices' behalf,
they are now big enough to do it themselves,' he explains. Still, he
sees annual growth continuing around the 20 per cent mark.
Another reason for a dip this year may be that the latter part of 2000
was spent on tenterhooks awaiting the merger which would form
GlaxoSmithKline. Meditech worked for both parties previously.
'A few things were put on ice and a number of campaigns slowed down,'
Milton says. But he claims that the group suffered no overall loss from
the process. Its main area of expertise is in virus treatment, such as
HIV products for Roche, and biotech for Gilead.
'Our clients tend to be at the heavy end of the healthcare sector, so we
don't do a great deal of things like media relations,' he says. 'It is
more professional relations, with key opinion-formers, stakeholders in
government and the financial and scientific press.' Organic growth is
the short-term priority, and Meditech plans to move into therapeutic
areas other than viruses - such as psychiatry and neurology - via
5 AVENUE HKM - pounds 3,599,000
Formed in January 2000, Avenue HKM (which stands for health knowledge
management) appears to have come from nowhere into this year's league
tables with a fee income of pounds 3.6m.
In fact, it is the result of a merger between two Blackwell Publishing
companies, Blackwell Healthcare and Bullet Communications.
Chief executive officer Joanna Marchant joined Blackwell Healthcare as
executive director in September 1999, just before the merger and name
Explaining the background to the move, Marchant says: 'Blackwell tended
to work on global programmes in the early phase of a product's life
cycle, while Bullet was pre-launch, launch, media relations, that sort
We could have grown them in parallel but they are so complementary that
it made strategic sense to merge,' she says. 'Both had good heritage
Last year, there was no particular emphasis on new business - bedding in
existing accounts and staff was deemed more important - although the
combined organisation did find time to win seven accounts. These include
work on Celebrex for Pharmacia and Roaccutane, a dermatological
'We knew we were facing operational challenges: the accounts came late
in the year and I would expect them to deliver more in 2001,' Marchant
continues. 'The international side is a key focus for us and we are now
in a position to take it forward.'
Most of the agency's 60 staff worked for either company although a few
left before the merger, she admits. 'Some people decided it wasn't for
them.' But Avenue is recruiting, and last year Clare Lucker joined as
programme director from an agency background into what Marchant
describes as a 'fluid' management structure.
9 COHN & WOLFE - pounds 2,606,757
Cohn & Wolfe's healthcare division saw a substantial rise in fee income
of 53 per cent to more that pounds 2.6m in 2000. It also picked up four
awards in the Pharmaceutical Marketing Communique Awards, including
Agency of the Year.
According to Angie Wiles, executive director healthcare, C&W was
successful in winning 18 pieces of new business. 'We secured almost 80
per cent of the business we went after in a competitive situation,' she
This included work for Novartis on its asthma treatment Xolair, expected
to launch in 2002. C&W also won business from Roche International for
influenza drug Tamiflu, which is in its pre-launch phase, and a
beta-blocker, Carvedilol. The agency now handles both international and
UK work for both products.
2000 saw the launch of the NHS and policy relations division, in the
wake of the introduction of NICE. Its aim is to target policy-makers at
national and local level.'
Commenting on the focus for 2001, Wiles says: 'We are looking at a
growth strategy based on offering increased specialisation within a
The agency has just launched C&W Healthcare Interactive, an on-line
media distribution service to target relevant groups.
Staff numbers grew by 50 per cent, from internal promotions, plus the
arrival of Shairose Ibrahim, account director, from MAC.
15 ATHENA MEDICAL - pounds 1,760,000
Set up in November 1997, healthcare specialist Athena Medical enjoyed
two years of growth, with a further 47 per cent rise in fee income to
pounds 1.76m. According to managing director Cherry Slater the agency
won seven pitches. These wins included global work for Nicorettes, the
nicotine replacement treatment - the company's only non-ethical account.
Its manufacturer, Pharmacia, has tended to focus on the consumer market,
but with smoking linked to a variety of diseases, it makes sense to
target health professionals too. 'They want to look more at medical
audiences, to address the clinical side of things,' says Slater.
Athena's biggest client in 2000 was privately-owned Italian
pharmaceutical group Menarin. Others include AstraZeneca and
GlaxoSmithKline. More than half the agency's work is in medical
education. Slater herself has in-house experience, setting up
AstraZeneca's PR department in 1994, following spells at Shire Hall and
For the future, media relations will be more of a focus. 'We are keen to
build up what we're doing on the media side; there has been a trend to
shy away,' Slater says. With this in mind, the agency hired its first
media director, Julie Dixon, in January 2001. And staff retention has
been exceptional; in almost three years no one has left the agency.
Along with business growth, Slater hopes this is another trend that will
18 LOWE FUSION HEALTHCARE - pounds 1,328,365
After 1999, when fee income fell by 11 per cent, Lowe Fusion held its
own in 2000 with a marginal year-on-year increase of one per cent. This
was despite a key client halting its development of a major new product
early in the second quarter of the year.
'This account would have contributed about 30 per cent of our predicted
fee income for the year. These things happen in the pharmaceutical
arena, but it was a sudden and unexpected loss of income,' says managing
director, Julia Cook.
New business included an international medical education programme for
Roche's rheumatoid arthritis product Trocade, and an international brief
for Elan's NeuroBloc dystonias product.
The agency was appointed by Novartis as the pharmaceutical company's
preferred supplier for opinion-leader development programmes, working
most notably in transplantation. Novartis Pharma UK appointed LFH to
work on customer relationship programmes spanning clinical trials and
The appointment of NHS author and consultant Carolyn Semple Piggot
enabled Lowe Fusion to broaden and strengthen its NHS activities. A
specialist new media facility was also set up.
Cook adds: 'Overall, there was insignificant growth in fee income in
2000, but it also means that projections for 2001 are promising, with a
20 per cent increase in fee income forecast.'
19 CHANDLER CHICCO AGENCY - pounds 1,228,789
The agency set itself a very ambitious target for 2000. Healthcare
specialist Chandler Chicco Agency (CCA) managing director Jennie Talman
says: It was our third year in business and we felt it had to be the
year we made our mark. In terms of profile, you could be seen as a
smallish agency that does some nice work, but isn't one of the key
players. You begin to get pigeonholed and we didn't want that to
With a fee income of pounds 1.2m and 20 people, the agency has been one
of the fastest-growing of the year.
The key aspect of this large rise was global growth. The company built a
strong relationship with Novartis in a short space of time, gaining four
accounts with the group as well as new business with AstraZeneca.
For the future, growth strategy remains essentially organic. Clients are
increasingly keen on new ways of communicating, and not simply relying
on patient groups, Talman says: 'The power of word-of-mouth marketing is
highly prized. It is enormous; it's the future of reaching
Talman says that one of the agency's focuses in the coming year will be
identifying, and tapping into, the ways in which thirtysomething women,
for example, talk to each other about treatments and remedies.
20 SANTE COMMUNICATIONS - pounds 1,038,510
A 33 per cent increase saw fee income top the pounds 1m mark for ethical
and complex healthcare issues specialist Sante Communications. Some
major new business wins fuelled the growth. TNK handed the agency a
six-figure account working on a new clot-busting drug for heart
Sante beat four rivals to land Schering-Plough's oncology portfolio,
which included launching ovarian cancer product Caelyx and assisting in
the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) review for
Existing client GlaxoSmithKline increased its spend. Other work for
retained clients included the launch of Actonel for the Alliance for
Better Bone Health and a DTC campaign for Procter & Gamble with the
National Osteoporosis Society.
Two key appointments also helped Sante to grow. Janine Hogan, ex-head of
PR at Roche, joined as executive director, while Health Secretary Alan
Milburn's former PRO Andrew Harrison became account director.
The agency continued to offer NHS advice, but increased its level of
NICE consultancy to clients. 'Our strategy has been to capitalise on the
changes that have been happening in the marketplace, such as NICE, or a
changing global perspective on a particular health issue,' says managing
director Liz Shanahan.
23 WEBER SHANDWICK - pounds 868,000
For Weber Shandwick, 2000 looks like a year the agency's healthcare
practice would rather forget. A whopping 58 per cent dip saw fee income
tumble to pounds 868,000.
'We have had difficulties recruiting people in the healthcare area,'
admits Chris Genasi, chief executive corporate, consumer and
'And there has been a reduction in the ethical side, which tends to be
higher fee. That explains a fair amount of the reduction (in fee
But the underlying reason for the decline is that healthcare has not
been a recent priority for the agency, he continues: 'You do need to
invest to grow a practice area. The key to success is good quality
senior people; when you have them, the business tends to follow.'
Clare Davidson, who was running the consumer and healthcare businesses,
left in December and Genasi took them over in addition to his corporate
brief at the start of 2001.
He says: 'One of my jobs is to rebuild that healthcare business. It's
been a year when we haven't focused on that area and the clients are
virtually all gone.'
Only one, pacemaker manufacturer Medtronic, has been retained. Weber
Shandwick's three-person healthcare team works on four accounts overall,
including two GlaxoSmithKline brands.
'Our income will continue to stay low for a while,' Genasi predicts.
'Growth will come from OTC work.' He says the agency is keen to adopt a
pan-European approach to healthcare, using the group's PROs in other
countries to work on accounts: 'Clients are increasingly looking for a
European response and I think that's the way ahead.'
24 JO SPINK PR - pounds 731,864
Fee income at consumer healthcare specialist Jo Spink PR grew by a
spectacular 127 per cent. 'Growth was mainly organic, primarily through
offering a wider range of communication services to existing clients,'
explains director Jo Spink. 'An acceleration in the industry's desire
for real consumer expertise ensured we were able to secure a more
substantial percentage of clients' marketing budgets.'
During the last year, the agency has developed a broader marketing
communications role, taking on more design, print and POS work, website
development, and advertising co-ordination.
Existing client Johnson & Johnson MSD Consumer Pharmaceuticals appointed
the agency on a six-figure brief to handle a major gastro launch,
bringing the portfolio of J&J OTC healthcare brands handled by the
agency to eight.
Collagen Aesthetics, part of the Inamed Group, also expanded the
agency's brief to include work on the international account for Collagen
Instant Therapy, an anti-ageing treatment. There was an increase in
media and lobbying work too from Biogen during NICE's appraisal of its
multiple sclerosis drug beta-interferon 1A.
The agency's biggest client win was consumer healthcare website
NetDoctor.co.uk. The site was ranked as the fourth most successful
internet venture in The Sunday Times Top 100 e-business list last
Jo Spink strengthened its management team, appointing Jon Cope,
previously Health Education Authority PRO, as account director. Three
account managers, Helen Hammond, Kirstie Mackenzie, and Julia Clough,
'It appears everyone is jumping on the DTC bandwagon. JSPR has been
targeting healthcare consumers for over ten years,' observes Spink.
26 MYRIAD PUBLIC RELATIONS - pounds 673,992
Cambridgeshire-based Myriad had an excellent year as fee income climbed
102 per cent. Managing director Steve Weaving says: 'Our substantial
growth over the last 12 months reflects the culmination of a number of
planned activities with existing clients combined with new business
The agency took on an increasing amount of international work, including
a campaign for existing client, SSL International, the maker of Durex
condoms, to promote a global sex survey in 30 countries.
'Clients are increasingly experiencing the demonstrable financial and PR
benefits of rolling an appropriate PR initiative out internationally,'
Another existing client, 3M Health Care, also increased its spend to
include corporate communications on new products, such as surgical
drapes and gowns, dressings, stethoscopes and and respirators.
Myriad found itself well placed to take advantage of the 'Cambridge
phenomenon', the growth in healthcare companies in the Cambridge area.
New clients included ERBI - the Eastern Region Biotechnology Initiative
- the umbrella group for a cluster of biotech companies in the region,
and hi-tech products inventor Sentec and its spin-off company Smart Bead
'Our strategy for the future is not only to continue to work with our
larger multinational clients, but also to focus on the rich seam of
smaller and still developing companies coming into existence in the
Cambridge region,' says Weaving.
'While some of these may be relatively small, they show huge potential
for growth with a corresponding potential for increased PR activity,' he
39 BMA COMMUNICATIONS - pounds 214,345
BMA Communications' healthcare division had what can only be described
as a very disappointing year as fee income dropped by a dramatic 48 per
'We have excellent credentials in healthcare, but as an agency we
neglected to do much to promote these last year, putting more emphasis
on our growing FMCG, retail and consumer business,' comments managing
director Jane Beechey.
'That was a mistake on our part and we intend to do more to communicate
our experience in direct to consumer and cause-related marketing this
year,' she adds.
Although healthcare fee income dropped, the agency reports that no
clients were actually lost. Beechey attributes the decline in fee income
to 'reduction in client budgets'. She says some clients opted to do more
work in-house, while others concentrated their activities in areas
outside BMA's core competencies, which are POM (prescription-only
medicines), OTC and cause-related projects in key therapy areas.
Among the new work for existing clients was the launch of two POM
products for Schwarz Pharma. These were the anti-allergenic product
Moraxin, and palliative care treatment Mizollan.
BMA was also called to provide maternity cover for the corporate
communications function for Boehringer Ingelheim, the world's largest
independent pharmaceutical company.
For 2001, Beechey is confident the agency is well placed to take
advantage of developments in healthcare PR: 'The benefit of PR, beyond
primary healthcare and opinion-former activities, is not yet fully
appreciated by pharmaceutical businesses. This will change as
direct-to-consumer opportunities become recognised by them.'
- To support its growing international portfolio, Shire Hall developed
its internal media facilities into a Global Media Unit staffed by
ex-broadcast journalists. Two new board directors were appointed -
Antonia Betts at SH International and Elen Davies at SH Communications -
while SHI managing director Peter Field retired
- Last year, there was no particular emphasis on new business for
newcomer Avenue HKM - bedding in existing accounts and staff was deemed
more important - although the combined organisation did find time to win
seven accounts. These include work on Celebrex for Pharmacia and
Roaccutane, a dermatological project
- Lowe Fusion Healthcare was appointed by Novartis as the pharmaceutical
company's preferred supplier for opinion-leader development programmes,
working most notably in transplantation. Novartis Pharma UK appointed
LFH to work on customer relationship programmes spanning clinical trials
and medical education
- Broad-based healthcare specialist Galliard Healthcare Communications
attracted heavyweight clients, including Merck Sharp & Dohme which
handed three six-figure accounts to the agency encompassing professional
relations and product media support, while AstraZeneca gave it six
accounts including oncology mapping. Other wins were Roche, Tissue
Science Labs and Pfizer
- Cambridgeshire-based Myriad had an excellent year as fee income
climbed 102 per cent. The agency found itself well placed to take
advantage of the 'Cambridge phenomenon', the growth in healthcare
companies in the Cambridge area. New clients included ERBI - the Eastern
Region Biotechnology Initiative - the umbrella group for a cluster of
biotech companies in the region, and hi-tech products inventor Sentec
and its spin-off company Smart Bead Technologies.