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
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.