Novartis Pharmacuticals UK PA brief heads to APCO

APCO UK has won the public affairs brief for Novartis

Pharmaceuticals UK - as the Swiss drug giant prepares to roll out

several highly-anticipated new products.

The agency was awarded the brief after Novartis decided to beef up its

PA work.

Previously PA was handled by a small in-house team and a parliamentary

monitoring agency, but there was little emphasis on campaigning work,

said Novartis director of communications Jo Ashton.

She confirmed no pitch had been held. Instead APCO was picked on the

basis of work carried out for Ashton while she was working for her

previous employer, Lilly UK.

APCO, whose MD is Nick de Luca, will provide monitoring services as well

as strategic advice on products as they are launched.

Novartis retains eight other PR firms to promote individual


Ashton said there were no plans to reduce the number of agencies.

Novartis is one of the largest suppliers of drugs to the NHS. Its

products include treatments for skin disease, cancer, cardiovascular

disease and schizophrenia.

The company was due to release annual results on 16 August and was

expected to post double-digit drug sales growth. Yet Novartis's

reputation for smoothly rolling out new products has been hit by delays

to the certification of two highly-anticipated new drugs; Zelmac/Zelnorm

for irritable bowel syndrome; and Xolair for asthma.

APCO is working on the launch of another product, Glivec, which treats

chronic myeloid leukemia. Glivec is to reach the market later this


APCO's healthcare practice counts Eli Lilly UK, Thames Valley

Pharmaceuticals Group, Roche Products, the Multiple Sclerosis Society

and Macmillan Cancer Trust among its clients.

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