Client: Scios, Inc. (Sunnyvale, CA)
PR Team: Edelman (New York)
Campaign: TurboBoosting Scios' Reputation and Shareholder Value
Time Frame: November 2000 - August 2001
Budget: About $400,000
When a biotech company has gone 18 years without an approved product,
the outlook can seem pretty grim.
However, in 1999, Scios felt it was finally its year when it presented
Natrecor to the FDA. The drug was designed to treat patients with acute
congestive heart failure, but the FDA did not approve Natrecor due to
questions about dosage. As a result, Scios stock dropped from $6.00 a share to $3.84 the very next day.
The new leadership at Scios, namely CEO Richard Brewer, knew that the
company needed to place an emphasis on research, which would appeal to
the concerns of the FDA.
Edelman was brought in to turn around what appeared to be a hopeless
situation, and was ambitiously charged with reinventing Scios' image,
and getting the word out about Natrecor. Don Hyman, SVP of Edelman's
corporate health practice, collaborated with Wendy Carhart, associate
director of IR and corporate communications at Scios, to prepare the
market for the drug. "Scios has always been known as scientifically
strong, but it never seemed to get the business side across the finish
line before," explains Carhart.
Confident that Natrecor would pass the FDA on a second try, Edelman knew
that the key was to raise awareness of Scios with people who didn't know
that the company existed, as well as change the negative perception that
those who knew of Scios already had. Moreover, they needed to make sure
that Scios' clinical trials and research were understood clearly.
In November 2000, Natrecor was presented to the American Heart
Association (AHA), and Edelman optimized the press conference coverage.
Because the AHA is well respected, the agency was able to leverage this
reputation to sell the quality of Scios' data, primarily to the medical
"When doctors get excited, Wall Street gets excited," says Hyman.
Once the physicians got word of the validity and value of Natrecor,
investors' ears perked up, which in turn caught the attention of the
leading news media. Edelman also worked to improve search engine
positioning for Scios, organized analyst meetings and interviews, and
issued a VNR. Essentially, Edelman created "a wave of awareness" that
demonstrated Natrecor's benefits (easier breathing, primarily) in light
of the fact that in the past 14 years no new drugs have come out to
improve quality of life for those suffering from acute congestive heart
On August 10, 2001, Natrecor received final approval from the FDA, and
it became available nationwide only a few days later. In less than three
months, Natrecor had generated $4.5 million in sales before the
start of advertising. This was due in large part to the fact that
doctors already knew about the drug when it became available. Sales were
expected to exceed $10 million by the end of 2001.
For its work, Edelman was profiled in The New York Times, The Financial
Times, Investor Business, The Boston Globe, Reuters, and Dow Jones. The
agency also won the PRSA's Silver Anvil award for its promotion of
Natrecor and for boosting Scios as a company.
Scios is now looking to keep the momentum going through research and
validation. It will continue to document the importance of Natrecor, and
is also beginning to look at different uses for the drug. But, "we do
not want to be a one-trick pony," says Carhart.
Edelman has already begun working with Scios on a new drug called Scios
469 (until it is officially named), designed to treat rheumatory