Pfizer, Aventis Pharma give global inhaled insulin push to Ketchum

NEW YORK: Pfizer and Aventis Pharma have awarded Ketchum the global PR account for an inhalable form of insulin that is expected to reduce the number of needle injections diabetes patients must endure.

NEW YORK: Pfizer and Aventis Pharma have awarded Ketchum the global PR account for an inhalable form of insulin that is expected to reduce the number of needle injections diabetes patients must endure.

NEW YORK: Pfizer and Aventis Pharma have awarded Ketchum the global

PR account for an inhalable form of insulin that is expected to reduce

the number of needle injections diabetes patients must endure.



While Ketchum global healthcare director David Catlett declined to

disclose billings, the account is likely a lucrative one. All

manufactured inhaled insulin is still in clinical trials and is at least

one year away from being submitted to the FDA for approval, after which

marketing programs can legally begin.



Nevertheless, sales projections have already led to substantial

pre-launch hype. Earlier this month, an SG Cowen market analyst rated

Pfizer as a top stock pick for the next 12 months - in large part

because of the inhaled insulin product, which the analyst said will net

$1.2 billion in revenue in 2004.



Refusing to disclose details of the PR campaign, Catlett allowed only

that ’research and development work’ is being conducted. Vanessa

McGowan, manager of pharmaceutical communications at Pfizer, added, ’We

will be doing active PR when it is approved, but we just haven’t decided

what we’re going to be doing pre-approval.’



McGowan said Ketchum’s past experience in promoting diabetes treatments

was the key to the firm’s selection.



’Ketchum has a great background in diabetes,’ she said. ’We felt that

they were fairly knowledgeable about the current state of the

disease.’



Diabetes specialist Marian Parrott, VP of clinical affairs at the

American Diabetes Association, said that pharmaceutical companies must

be very cautious about communicating the risks of inhaled insulin,

because it is a first-in-class treatment.



’I’d like to know any side effects and difficulties,’ she said. ’They

should explain any problems for patients with asthma, how they use it,

how soon before meals to take it and the technique for people to inhale

it.’



Pfizer and Aventis are currently far out in front of its two main

competitors in getting inhaled insulin to market. Neither Novo Nordisk

Pharmaceuticals and its partner Aradigm nor the combined team of Eli

Lilly, Dura Pharmaceuticals and Spiros are past phase II trials with

their inhaled insulin products.



Spokespeople at Novo and Eli Lilly said that discussing marketing

efforts would be premature. ’We’ll start doing PR after phase III and

beyond,’ said Kindra Antey, a communications associate at Eli Lilly.



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