CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - PR is at the heart of Scios' recovery

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.



Strategy



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.



Tactics



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

community.



"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

failure.



Results



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.



Future



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

arthritis.



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