Who’s who in corporate healthcare PR - Today’s healthcare companies - drug and device makers, HMOs, biotech companies, hospitals - face incredible opportunities and worrying challenges. Much depends on their reputations, and their reputati

Healthcare is a diverse industry. While drug manufacturers, healthcare providers and health insurers are interrelated, they face different challenges, a different regulatory structure and, for the most part, are at different stages in their development. For example, pharmaceutical companies tend to be well-established, global giants. Biotech companies on the whole are now coming into their own. And managed care companies have evolved at a dizzying pace and are still in the process of defining themselves, both internally and to the public.

Healthcare is a diverse industry. While drug manufacturers, healthcare providers and health insurers are interrelated, they face different challenges, a different regulatory structure and, for the most part, are at different stages in their development. For example, pharmaceutical companies tend to be well-established, global giants. Biotech companies on the whole are now coming into their own. And managed care companies have evolved at a dizzying pace and are still in the process of defining themselves, both internally and to the public.

Healthcare is a diverse industry. While drug manufacturers,

healthcare providers and health insurers are interrelated, they face

different challenges, a different regulatory structure and, for the most

part, are at different stages in their development. For example,

pharmaceutical companies tend to be well-established, global giants.

Biotech companies on the whole are now coming into their own. And

managed care companies have evolved at a dizzying pace and are still in

the process of defining themselves, both internally and to the


But there is a common theme from every person in charge of public

relations at a healthcare organization: a genuine sense of mission that

comes from knowing they represent companies whose products and services

improve - and save - lives. The PR pros at the helm of leading

healthcare concerns say the greatest satisfaction in what they do comes

from the stories they get from patients who ’have gotten their lives

back’ because of a product or service that the pro helped promote.

The sector has its cross to bear, however. It is difficult to recall a

time when healthcare wasn’t under attack for one thing or another. The

industry has deep relevance to the entire population, which carries with

it enormous public exposure and the risk of becoming a lightning rod for

controversy. This puts the people in charge of communications on

constant alert, and assigns to them tremendous responsibility.

Such is the life of a healthcare communicator. To find out more about

the heroes behind the headlines, PRWeek polled industry insiders to

identify the most influential, powerful and admired professionals in

corporate healthcare PR.


Notwithstanding the diversity of the industry, healthcare PR pros have

quite a few commonalities.

First, their backgrounds indicate the specialized nature of what they

do. Most of them come from healthcare backgrounds, either from

pharmaceutical companies, the hospital side or research. For example,

Linda M. Distlerath, vice president of public affairs at Merck, joined

the company as a clinical research associate, while Marily H. Rhudy,

vice president of global public affairs at American Home Products,

started her career as a pharmacist.

Others did work at disease-oriented nonprofits (such as the American

Lung Association) or in the public-health sector. Not surprisingly, a

number of them come from journalism or agency backgrounds; but again,

the ones passing through agencies generally worked with healthcare

clients, even though at the time specialized ’practices’ might not have

been formally established.

Another interesting characteristic of these in-house pros is that many

of them have long tenures at their companies. It is not uncommon to hear

of a person who has been at his or her company (particularly on the

pharmaceutical side) for 20 years or more. Carolyn Glynn, for example,

has been at Roche since 1969.

And they’ve seen PR come a long way through these years. Today, the

corporate communications or public affairs function at most

pharmaceutical and managed-care companies represented here have a seat

on their respective management boards, which means that communications

is consulted early in the overall business strategy and has influence

over how decisions are made and implemented at the upper levels. Many of

those profiled have been instrumental in catalyzing this evolution.

’PR as a profession is coming into its own,’ notes Glynn. ’It has

finally taken hold that ’corporate branding’ necessitates an

understanding of the nature of the company and of the industry, as well

as a knowledge of how to communicate that to different audiences. This

has never been valued as much as it is now.’

Although biotech, pharma and managed care are in different stages of

their development, they are all dealing with a radical change in the

marketplace: the emergence of the end user as a key influencer in the

purchasing decision.

Traditionally, drug makers communicated to the healthcare providers, and

health insurers talked to the purchasers - namely, the employers. But

with the Internet revolution and the information explosion, consumers

suddenly are taking an active role in managing their health and are

making informed choices in partnership with their physicians and


To meet this challenge, several pharmaceutical PR departments are

forming task forces to develop strategies for reaching the consumer


Pharmacia & Upjohn recently hired a marketer from the packaged goods

sector who has no background in healthcare, to add a more

consumer-oriented perspective to the marketing communications team. And

managed care is teaming up with consumer advocacy groups to better

explain the benefits of what they do to the end user.

Consumer focus

’The managed care industry from a communications perspective has been in

the dark ages,’ says Jay Silverstein, chief marketing officer at


’Many players in the industry have treated this like an insurance

product, and haven’t acted and thought from the consumers’ perspective

and brought value to that level. The industry needs to start thinking

like big marketing companies: the consumer is ultimately king, no matter

who purchases.’

Catherine Kernen, global director of product PR at drug maker

AstraZeneca, says finding the customer is a big part of what she’s

doing. ’My job now is to know what about my company will influence the

consumer - and how do I get information to the consumer,’ she says. ’We

have internal task groups identifying as-yet-unused communications

vehicles to get our company messages straight to the minds of the

consumers. We have access to an unlimited number of (communications)

channels. I can’t think of any time in history that we have had so many


Another market reality the industry faces is healthcare reform. (And

it’s not just managed care companies - for example, 60% to 80% of

Johnson & Johnson’s business is with HMOs, where it used to be mostly

with the fee-for-service companies.) Ben Singer, vice president of PR at

PacifiCare, says of the healthcare reform debate, ’It’s like a piece of

putty with 15 people pulling on it at once, stretching it out in all

different directions.

The question is, where will it lead, and what will break first? For PR,

this is the challenge.’

AHP’s Rhudy adds, ’The government at state and national levels is

influencing what we do more and more. Before, their role was as a

monitor. Now, they’re trying to achieve commercial objectives - wanting

to take matters into their own hands. They have been given legitimate

power by the public to ’fix’ things.’

Because healthcare reform is being debated in the public arena, the

media has a powerful role in shaping the opinion of legislators,

regulators and the public. And the industry’s corporate communications

and public affairs departments have been on the front line of the media

battle. The managed care companies especially have gotten good results

from offensive strategies, such as the member-testimonial ’HMO Success

Story of the Week’ campaign by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and the

sweeping success of UnitedHealthcare’s announcement that doctors would

make healthcare decisions for their members.

Undaunted by the bitterness of not a few recent headlines, these experts

have optimistic views about the turnout of the debate. ’We’re in a

wonderful, noble business where we can impact people’s lives

positively,’ insists Silverstein. ’Once we get through the hurdles, the

true virtue will shine.’

Bill Nielsen of Johnson & Johnson adds, ’The future is incredible.

Around the world, there is a great demand for quality-of-life products.

How we meet the increased demand is the challenge. The healthcare system

and government have to figure out how to afford it.’ Moreover, he points

out that ’that’s what life is all about: living longer and healthier. So

what’s wrong with spending more for healthcare?’

Consumer empowerment and healthcare reform are not the only sweeping

changes affecting this sector, however. Indeed, PR pros invest a bulk of

their time and energy just keeping up with - and trying to get out in

front of - change, in one form or another. For example, consider the

explosion in the sheer number of drugs and treatments available. ’In the

’50s, about all they had was penicillin,’ Kernen reminds us. ’We forget

how many drugs have been discovered. Besides that, there are more and

better surgical procedures, more ways to treat disease, and better pain


A technological revolution in healthcare is fueling this growth. New

technologies, such as combinatorial chemistry, computer modeling and

recombinant DNA, allow drugs to be discovered faster, and to be more

targeted. Advances in information technology have helped streamline the

testing and approval phases. Innovations in medical devices have

paralleled those of drugs, permitting less-invasive surgeries and a

more-extensive arsenal of procedures to treat all types of


For PR, this means that there is more - and more complex - information

to deliver to a hungry public. And the messages must be delivered in an

environment already laden with information overkill.

Probably one of the most notorious idiosyncrasies about healthcare PR -

for the drug makers in particular - is the stiff regulatory


In this context, communicating a message that is relevant is a challenge

considering all the qualifications that get tacked onto it. As Pam

Rasmussen, vice president of PR at Janssen Pharmaceutica, muses, ’I

sometimes fantasize about what it’s like to work at a consumer products

company!’ Of the eternal tension between the marketing department, which

wants to say everything, and the company’s internal reviewers and legal

advisors, who insist upon qualifying everything, Rasmussen says, ’It’s a

real challenge to be able to say something accurate, understandable and

relevant, but approved.’

Tensions aside, Rasmussen and her counterparts say they would keep these

regulations, given the choice. They form an integral part of the sober

responsibility with which companies must promote their products and

services, precisely because of the life-affecting qualities mentioned

above. ’Regulations are welcome because people will push the line,’ says

Mary-Frances Faraji of Pharmacia & Upjohn.

One thing is certain: PR pros seem to thrive among the hurdles,

challenges and the occasional fiery arrows characteristic of this field.

’Healthcare is exciting,’says Linda Mayer of Knoll Pharmaceutical.

’There is increased demand for information about health and medicine.

The investment community, health professionals and consumers are

clamoring for information, and for PR there is a growing number of

vehicles to get them the information.’


It is all this clamoring for information and technologies that’s keeping

PR people up at night - literally. Most companies have no choice but to

keep their PR departments on alert 24 hours a day. Andy McCormick,

Pfizer’s director and team leader for corporate media relations, had to

start keeping a team on call 24 hours to keep up with the media’s Viagra


Director of PR Ed West had a similar experience at Eli Lilly when he and

his team were doing up to 30 interviews a day for Prozac. Indeed,

healthcare is the industry that never sleeps, at least in the mind of

the consumer. Says Bayer’s Dan McIntyre, ’That’s the beauty of

healthcare: it’s always top of mind. What I do for a living is what’s

talked about over the weekend.’

From a managed care perspective, the clamoring is just as intense.

’Healthcare is talked about at home, at work, on Capitol Hill, in the

local political offices - across all audiences. We have a universal

product, even though our healthcare system is not universal,’ notes

United HC’s Silverstein.

So, what skills are needed to keep up with this pace, besides a high

energy level and basic knowledge of PR? Many communications managers

look for people with healthcare experience. ’People entering the

(pharmaceutical) field need a solid grounding in the regulatory

environment. It affects everything we do,’ says Mayer. McCormick remarks

that ’there is a deficiency of talent for being able to explain science

to laypersons.’

Just as important is the ability to think strategically and see past the

clutter, as well as flexibility and fast response time given the speed

at which the sector is changing.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that a heartfelt desire to improve people’s

health and well-being is a clear prerequisite to working in this


This passion is consistent across healthcare subsegments. ’In

healthcare, you feel you’re working in an area with a direct connection

to benefit for people,’ explains Rasmussen. ’In addition to making

money, you’re helping people. It sounds sappy but it’s important to


It’s important to her peers, as well. ’It’s very rewarding that the kind

of products our companies make are making tremendous differences in

people’s lives,’ says Mayer. ’I get letters or e-mails every day from

patients telling me how they have been helped.’ Faraji of Pharmacia &

Upjohn sums up the satisfaction and excitement in healthcare PR: ’It’s

the social relevance of what we do - the greater good - that makes it

all worthwhile.

And it’s an exciting time. It’s never, ever dull.’


Name: Christopher Allman

Company: Centocor

Title: Director, corporate communications

Christopher Allman was lured into biotech in 1998 when Centocor offered

him the opportunity to communicate the promise of biologics to treat

serious medical conditions. For example, he managed a comprehensive

media campaign for Remicade, the first treatment of its kind approved

for an autoimmune disorder. He also managed a nationwide media campaign

to raise awareness of how its antibody ReoPro combined with a

clot-buster, Retavase, may be a potential breakthrough in the treatment

of heart attacks. Allman has built his career around healthcare. He

first spent eight years working with healthcare clients at PR agencies

before managing public affairs at Merck, where he specialized in heart

disease, hypertension and men’s health.


Name: Linda M. Distlerath

Company: Merck

Title: Vice president, public affairs

Few PR professionals in healthcare have experience as rounded as Linda

Distlerath, who joined Merck in 1984 as a clinical research associate

and gradually worked her way through issues management, science and

technology policy and then public affairs. Her educational background

holds a clue to her professional breadth: she holds a BS in medical

technology, a PhD in environmental health and a law degree, which she

completed while working full time at Merck. She is credited with

building Merck’s exemplary third-party relationship-building program,

most notably with the sometimes thorny HIV/AIDS community. Noting her

sound strategy combined with a charming personality, a former colleague

calls Distlerath ’a rarity.’


Name: Caren Arnstein

Company: Genzyme Corporation

Title: Vice president, corporate


While biotechnology companies may be past the glory days of a decade

ago, biotech still managed to outperform all other healthcare sectors on

the stock market in 1999, and Genzyme has been named a top pick by

industry analysts. Genzyme’s popularity on Wall Street can be credited

to Caren Arnstein, who, after joining the company in 1995, built a

formal IR program from scratch, including budgeting and staffing plans,

communication objectives and messages and corporate publications. She is

also on the board of the Boston Chapter of NIRI. She has more than 20

years of experience in a broad range of related activities. Before

entering into biotech she worked in the environmental services



Name: Carol Dornbush

Company: Whitehall-Robins Healthcare

Title: Director, public affairs

A division of American Home Products, Whitehall-Robins makes some of the

world’s best-known over-the-counter products. Three of its brands -

Advil, Centrum and Robitussin - are among the top-selling OTC brands in

the US. Whether the subject is headaches, coughs, allergies or vitamins,

Carol Dornbush provides W-R with strategic PR counsel and issues

management and directs communications for both internal and external

audiences. Before joining W-R five years ago, Dornbush was an

award-winning editor and communications manager at Lederle Laboratories.

More than awards, though, she insists the satisfaction lies in

supporting top products with an aggressive marketer like

Whitehall-Robins, whose global sales hit dollars 2.4 billion last



Name: Michael Bardin

Company: Scripps Health

Title: Senior director, community and public affairs

Managed care today poses challenges that test the most seasoned public

relations professionals. Michael Bardin steps up to the plate by

focusing his 30-plus years of experience on improving the community’s

health and on public policy development in healthcare. At Scripps, a San

Diego-based nonprofit healthcare provider, Bardin created a community

health and advocacy department and developed a comprehensive,

community-based program focusing on improving the health of the region’s

population. Under his leadership, Scripps has applied information

technology to support the development of professional and community

relationships. Before joining Scripps 15 years ago, Bardin spent more

than a dozen years with Phillips-Ramsey, an advertising and PR



Name: Howard Drescher

Company: Cigna HealthCare

Title: Director, corporate relations

Tired of accusations that healthcare decisions at managed care companies

are made by ’bean counters,’ Howard Drescher began planting articles in

business journals penned by the medical directors of Cigna


The directors, he demonstrated, are a staff of doctors whose sole

purpose is to ensure that the best quality healthcare decisions are

implemented for Cigna patients. Drescher was also instrumental in

developing and executing Cigna’s media position in the fallout from the

censored newsletters produced for employees of Cigna’s client, Philip

Morris. The result, from the health plan’s point of view, was fair and

balanced coverage. Prior to Cigna, Drescher handled communications and

publications at Travelers.


Name: Karen L. Bergman

Company: Alza Corporation

Title: Vice president, corporate and investor relations

Once a pioneer in drug delivery technology that partnered with global

pharma to develop and launch drugs, Alza in 1997 transformed into a

specialty pharma- ceutical company developing and launching drugs solo.

Karen Bergman came in at the start of this process and integrated the PR

function with Alza’s emerging marketing communications effort. The

company achieved a number of firsts under Bergman’s leadership,

including its first major drug approval, launch and promotion; its first

FDA advisory committee panels; and its first M&A communications program

upon the acquisition last year of oncology company Sequus. Bergman also

handled communications during Alza’s well-publicized but thwarted 1999

effort to merge with Abbott Laboratories.


Name: Mary-Frances Faraji

Company: Pharmacia & Upjohn

Title: Director, public affairs and consumer healthcare

Having just joined P&U in December 1999, Mary-Frances Faraji’s greatest

achievements in the company’s consumer healthcare (OTC) division are

still in the pipeline. But her accomplishments at Novo Nordisk

Pharmaceuticals, from where she hails, offer a clue to her future

success. There, she created and integrated the PR function within the

marketing and sales department to build growth for the company’s US

brand presence. No stranger to the OTC category, Faraji held a variety

of positions with Novartis Consumer Health after directing PR at Ciba

Pharmaceuticals. Although she has always worked in healthcare, Faraji’s

strategic ability comes from an awareness that transcends her company’s

products and industry.


Name: Lyn Christenson

Company: PE Corporation

Title: Vice president, corporate communications

In the past 18 months, the market capitalization of PE Corporation -

which owns Celera Genomics and PE Biosystems - has catapulted from about

dollars 1 billion to dollars 24 billion. Even though Lyn Christenson

just joined the company last August, she can be credited with raising

awareness of PE’s corporate strategy, which helped fuel this growth. A

jewel in her crown is the cover story about PE’s ’transformation’ in the

February 21 issue of Forbes. Internally, Christenson formed the

company’s first corporate-level communications department by bringing

together the corporate communications, employee communications and

corporate philanthropy programs. Pre-PE, she created the first

communications department at Aviron, a biopharmaceutical company.


Name: Nancy V. Fitzsimmons

Company: Warner-Lambert

Title: Senior director, marketing communications

Pick a memorable, well-executed healthcare PR campaign and odds are

Nancy Fitzsimmons was behind it. Her work is so effective at

Warner-Lambert that in a 10-year period, her budget has increased from

dollars 500,000 to more than dollars 26 million. She has launched dozens

of prescription and OTC drugs, including Lipitor, a leading

cholesterol-lowering drug. She is probab- ly most acclaimed for having

seized the opportunity to showcase Listerine with Rosie O’Donnell after

P&G’s Scope named her ’least kissable.’ Listerine promoted Rosie’s

’kissability’ and in the process won daily mentions on Rosie’s show,

worth dollars 50 million in comparable advertising value. Prior to W-L,

Fitzsimmons worked at Burson-Marsteller.


Name: Jackie Cottrell

Company: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America


Title: Senior director, public affairs

Jackie Cottrell has been one of the key voices for the pharmaceutical

industry as the Medicare reform debate rages on. Her trade association,

PhRMA, represents more than 100 research-based pharmaceutical and

biotechnology companies. Cottrell is responsible for managing the media

efforts of the association since she joined in 1997. Before joining

PhRMA she held various media relations positions on Capitol Hill, most

recently as director of communications for Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS).

When Roberts chaired the House Agricultural Committee, Cottrell oversaw

the communications efforts of all the committee members, including the

passage of the national food stamp reform and farm bill reform.


Name: Stephen K. Galpin Jr.

Company: Schering-Plough

Title: Staff vice president, corporate communications

The ups and downs of the healthcare industry barely faze Stephen Galpin,

who joined Schering-Plough in 1987 after handling investor

communications and media relations at Union Carbide during the Bhopal

disaster. At Schering, Galpin established the company’s first intranet,

expanded the internal communications activities of senior management and

specialized the media relations function. Galpin’s communications

programs for the investor community have also contributed to the

company’s impressive return of 26% (compounded annual rate) over the

past decade. Prior to his foray into corporate communications, Galpin

worked as a copy editor and reporter for various Connecticut



Name: Rick Curran

Company: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida

Title: Senior consultant, media relations

No longer content to sit back and watch one negative managed care story

after another, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida’s Rick Curran launched

the ’HMO Success Story of the Week’ campaign in January 1998. The

member-testimonial program was one of the industry’s first organized

attempts to fight back against its opponents. It resulted in multiple

major media placements, national recognition for the Florida health plan

and changed perceptions among journalists and state and federal

legislators. A former broadcast and print journalist, Curran capitalized

on his 10 years as a hospital and home care public relations director to

present HMO members’ stories in a compelling style that puts a human

face on the managed care debate.


Name: Carolyn R. Glynn

Company: Hoffmann-LaRoche

Title: Vice president, public affairs

Carolyn Glynn is single-handedly responsible for elevating product PR as

a strategic business tool at Hoffmann-LaRoche. Not only did she

establish PR as an integral part of the company’s marketing team, Glynn

also put PR for the first time on the management team, the Roche

Laboratories Business Operating Group. The group is responsible for

setting the direction and providing oversight of the US pharmaceutical’s

sales and marketing organization.

Glynn currently plays a leadership role in moving the industry’s

communications and third-party initiatives forward through active

involvement with the PhRMA and other coalitions. She has spent her

30-plus-year career at Hoffmann-LaRoche, and is active in a number of

industry associations.


Name: Margaret B. Dardess

Company: Glaxo Wellcome

Title: Senior vice president, corporate affairs

A lawyer by training, Margaret Dardess took on her first corporate

affairs position at Glaxo Wellcome in 1991, after working in the

company’s legal department and subsequently as director of public policy


Her background makes her especially adept at navigating the industry’s

complex regulatory environment. As a member of the board of directors

since 1995, Dardess places special emphasis on the continued development

of her staff and on strengthening relationships with external


Recently, her staff has been involved in the much-talked-about proposed

merger with SmithKline Beecham. Dardess holds an MA and PhD in Japanese

history, in addition to her law degree.


Name: Lisa Haines

Company: Foundation Health Systems

Title: Director, public relations

Lisa Haines is responsible for media, public relations and crisis

communications at Foundation Health Systems, one of the nation’s largest

managed-care companies. Now a veteran strategist, Haines attributes her

diplomacy and fast-paced learning skills to her experience at one of

California’s top political consulting and PR firms, McNally Temple

Associates, which she joined shortly after college. Haines is probably

best known for the finesse with which she handles the tumultuous and

demanding managed care sector.

She herself puts it more humbly, saying, ’Juggling multiple hot projects

that all need immediate attention has taught me to be a quick learner,

adjust to any situation and, most important, keep a level head.’


Name: Jeremy Heymsfeld

Company: SmithKline Beecham

Title: Vice president, corporate communications

At the top of Jeremy Heymsfeld’s communications agenda of late has been

SmithKline Beecham’s proposed merger with Glaxo Wellcome, a transaction

that is expected to be completed this summer. The marriage would form

Glaxo SmithKline, the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical


When he’s not involved in advancing the merger, a typical day for

Heymsfeld involves launching products, writing annual reports and

managing issues.

Before becoming the company’s lead communications person in 1992, he was

a journalist, serving as City Hall bureau chief and Sunday editor at the

Philadelphia Inquirer, after a stint at the New York World-Telegram and



Name: Barbara M. Kelley

Company: Bausch & Lomb

Title: Vice president, corporate communications

Just days after Bausch & Lomb announced in January its soaring profits

for the fourth quarter, Fortune listed it as one of the most admired

medical products and equipment companies. Barbara Kelley has been a key

strategist behind Bausch & Lomb’s image since joining the company as

public relations manager in 1983. Since then, she has been regularly

promoted and in 1994 was elected an officer of the corporation and has

been instrumental in making corporate communications an integral part of

corporate decision-making. She has an unusual past for someone in

healthcare communications, having worked in telecommunications before

joining B&L. She is active on the boards of several community service

organizations in Rochester.


Name: Karen Ignagni

Company: American Association of Health Plans

Title: President and CEO

As chief lobbyist for the managed care industry, Karen Ignagni is

referred to by a colleague at AAHP as ’one of the most high-profile

healthcare PR persons around.’ As chief executive of the managed care

industry’s trade organization and ’PR shop,’ as she has called it on

occasion, Ignagni is the nation’s leading authority on the public

policy, legislative and public affairs issues challenging the industry

today. Washingtonian magazine named Ignagni one of the top three ’top

guns’ of all industry trade association heads. Her knowledge of health

policy and understanding of politics has made the 1,000-member trade

group ’a force to be reckoned with’ on Capitol Hill, according to

National Journal.


Name: Steven B. Kelmar

Company: Medtronic

Title: Vice president, government affairs and corporate relations

Under Steven Kelmar’s leadership, Medtronic - a developer of medical

technologies, mainly for cardiovascular applications - has emerged with

a renewed brand and a strengthened position in the marketplace.

Currently, Kelmar is leading the company’s recently announced E-Business

Center, which is focused on Web marketing, design and e-commerce

solutions for Medtronic.com. He also ensures the inclusion of

communications in corporate decision-making through his position on

Medtronic’s executive committee.

Prior to joining Medtronic in 1994, Kelmar was vice president of

Strategic Management Association, a healthcare consulting firm. This

position was pre- ceded by 14 years of public service, mostly with the

US Department of Health and Human Services.


Name: Cheryl Iverson

Company: Promina Health System

Title: Director of system communications

Few communicators in the healthcare industry can say they built their

company’s entire PR function from scratch. That’s just what Cheryl

Iverson has done at Promina since she accepted the position as the

Atlanta-based health system’s first communications director in 1995. No

sooner was the announcement made about Promina’s formation than the

hospital system was hit with a lawsuit from a newspaper publisher over

access to its records.

Having weathered that with her positive media relationships intact,

Iverson has conceived and built three communications functions within

Promina: internal, media relations and marketing. Iverson spearheaded a

sophisticated media relations database that allows member hospitals to

share talking points, media clips and media-related experiences.


Name: Catherine Kernen

Company: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

Title: Global director, product PR

After overseeing PR in the US through Astra’s various iterations -

including AstraMerck, Astra Pharmaceuticals and now AstraZeneca -

Catherine Kernen was recently promoted to a new worldwide position, from

which she oversees product promotion and crisis management for all the

company’s products in all countries. The global nature of her position

comes at a time when the Internet and global news channels eliminate the

information lag time between markets, so Kernen feels like she’s right

at the middle of the action. She has more than 25 years in the business,

starting out in medical schools and hospitals and working her way

through Burson-Marsteller’s healthcare practice before getting into PR

on the pharmaceutical research side.


Name: David Kaye

Company: Amgen

Title: Associate director, corporate communications

After nearly a decade of working on the agency side for a number of

pharma and biotech companies, including J&J, Schering-Plough and

Genentech, David Kaye is now making a name for himself at Thousand Oaks,

CA-based Amgen, a leading biotech company - one of the few that are

global. Kaye recently headed up Amgen’s work on behalf of the 10th

anniversary of its flagship product, anemia drug Epogen, the centerpiece

of which was the cross-country bicycle ride of a 30-year-old kidney

dialysis patient. The campaign generated national media attention and

helped motivate dialysis patients to dare to dream. Kaye is also

responsible for internal and financial communications.


Name: Lori Kraut

Company: Aventis

Title: Senior director, global communications

In the rapidly consolidating pharmaceutical sector, Lori Kraut is adept

at managing organizational change. Following the 1995 merger between

Hoechst and Marion Merrell Dow, she was responsible for the strategic

global positioning of the new company, Hoechst Marion Roussel. Last

year, Kraut was immersed again into merger communications with the

merger of HMR with Rhone-Poulenc to create Aventis. For Aventis, she

created internal and external guidelines for merger communications,

coordinated the announcement of key site selections and closings on a

global basis, and led a series of successful employee meetings to

announce merger-related news. Now her focus shifts back to the

commercial side of the business, working to expand the company’s global

product communications.


Name: Laura A. Leber

Company: Genentech

Title: Vice president, corporate communications

Things still aren’t slowing down at Genentech, referred to in industry

circles as the ’granddaddy of biotech.’ Its pipeline is stuffed with

therapies targeting unmet medical needs, and Laura Leber is responsible

for the strategic direction of the PR efforts surrounding these. She is

also responsible for corporate reporting, employee communications and

community relations.

With the promotion of Herceptin, a treatment for breast cancer, Leber

pioneered the company’s advocate-relations efforts by creating the first

program designed to provide patients access to experimental drugs.

Leber’s career has been dedicated to healthcare: after specializing in

it at Fleishman-Hillard and Hill & Knowlton, she served as associate

director of corporate communications at Searle before joining Genentech

in 1992.


Name: Andy McCormick

Company: Pfizer

Title: Director & team leader, corporate media relations

Andy McCormick was ’staggered’ (his word) by the unprecedented media

deluge surrounding Viagra. Expecting the target population to be

uncomfortable talking about erectile dysfunction, McCormick and his team

soon discovered that the patients instead embraced the opportunity and

found the treatment liberating. To his credit, McCormick worked hard to

point out that this wonder drug was only one part of Pfizer, and was

able to leverage some of Viagra’s media attention towards strengthening

the image of Pfizer overall. Before joining Pfizer in 1993, McCormick

worked in marketing at IBM and as a newspaper reporter in Delaware and

Virginia, after serving a term as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana,

West Africa.


Name: Allan Mann

Company: Kaiser Permanente

Title: Vice president, public affairs and communications

Allan Mann’s 20-year career at Kaiser Permanente has spanned the

evolution of managed care from the days when HMOs were the best thing

since sliced bread to their current status as ’villains.’ Throughout the

turmoil, Mann has ensured the survival of Kaiser Permanente’s reputation

for integrity and excellence through an integrated PR strategy supported

by internal communications. The result has been a dramatically improved

profile for Kaiser and the respect of opinion leaders in southern

California during Mann’s tenure there. His work is now proving equally

successful on the national stage since Mann took his current role in the

company’s corporate headquarters in 1997.


Name: Daniel J. McIntyre

Company: Bayer

Title: Title: Vice president, public policy and communications,

Pharmaceutical Division

Daniel McIntyre began his career in the ’70s, initially using his

economics education to counsel hospitals on facilities planning and

later designing community support campaigns. From there, he passed

through the agency side to a public policy position at Hoffmann-LaRoche,

where he was able to pull policy development and communications

together. When it comes to public policy, McIntyre ’understands the

provider side like no one else,’ says Bob Chandler of Chandler Chicco,

who has known McIntyre for 20 years. Among the achievements for which

McIntyre is most proud is a program he developed at Bayer in 1997 called

’Take It to Heart,’ which provides checkups and arranges follow-up care

for the African-American community.


Name: Linda J. Mayer

Company: Knoll Pharmaceutical

Title: Senior communications director

Linda Mayer has literally revolutionized the way Knoll does PR. She hit

the ground running upon joining the company five years ago by managing a

major Wall Street Journal crisis surrounding a study on the

thyroid-disease drug Synthoid. As a result of that crisis, she realigned

colleagues to ensure timely, consistent communications across the

company. Since then, she has built Knoll’s first full-service

communications function, re-engineered the way the department responds

to customers’ needs, orchestrated the company’s first US investor

relations outreach and established a strategic employee program. The

internal program fosters open, two-way communications via a number of

successful initiatives that led to the addition of a manager devoted

exclusively to it.


Name: Patricia Molino

Company: Johnson & Johnson

Title: Vice president, group issues and communications management

One of the most high-profile women in corporate healthcare

communications, Pat Molino is credited with developing the first

comprehensive communications and issues management capability for

Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide business groups and operating companies.

Before joining the company in 1996, Molino serviced it from the agency

side at Molino & Associates, a healthcare PR firm she headed in New

York. Most of her career has involved healthcare communications or

science writing and has been broad enough to include pharma, biotech,

hospitals and healthcare systems. In addition to her accomplishments in

corporate communications, Molino has authored several books for



Name: David S. McAdam

Company: Tenet Healthcare

Title: Senior vice president, corporate communications

Ravaged by Medicare funding cuts and slow reimbursements from HMOs,

hospital operators have not found it easy to win favor with Wall Street

these days.

But Tenet Healthcare Corp., the second-largest US hospital operator, was

one of only two healthcare companies to make ING Barings’s ’Best Ideas

2000’ list, a compilation of the compelling investment ideas. One of the

brains behind Tenet’s leadership position is David McAdam. In the

mid-’90s, while at Sitrick & Co., McAdam helped National Medical

Enterprises to reposition itself after some well-publicized difficulties

and to change its name to Tenet after acquiring AMI in 1995. Now inside

the company, McAdam reports to the chief corporate officer on matters of

corporate identity and strategic communications.


Name: Gina Cleary Moran

Company: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Title: Director, public relations

Responsible for the development and implementation of communications

strategies for the entire US line of prescription drugs for Novartis,

Gina Moran has launched several high-profile drugs, including Neoral,

the gold standard in immunosuppression for organ transplants; Lamisil, a

treatment for nail fungal infections; and Miacalcin, for


In her early work on Miacalcin, she spearheaded the innovative

’BoneMatters Tour,’ in which a 35-foot motor coach toured 28 states,

offering free bone mineral density testing to at-risk women over the age

of 55. Previously, Moran was manager of international public affairs at

Lederle, after having passed through the agency side at Hill & Knowlton

and Manning, Selvage & Lee.


Name: Bill Nielsen

Company: Johnson & Johnson

Title: Corporate vice president, public affairs and corporate


Bill Nielsen is arguably one of the most visible public relations

professionals in healthcare. At the helm of corporate communications at

a huge, diversified and decentralized family of 180 operating companies

in 51 countries, Nielsen has an enormous job, to say the least. His

career is replete with professional accomplishments, including the

leadership of an eight-year image-improvement campaign for the

pharmaceutical industry and a 10-year, nationwide campaign to help

reduce child injury and death. Nielsen joined the company 12 years ago,

after 18 years on the agency side (Carl Byoir & Associates, Hill &

Knowlton). Throughout his career he has been active in the leadership of

numerous professional organizations, including the Arthur Page



Name: Thomas T. Noland Jr.

Company: Humana

Title: Senior vice president, corporate communications

It would have been hard to imagine Tom Noland in his current post back

in the early ’80s, when he was a foreign correspondent in Paris

interviewing exiled Iranian leader Shapour Bakhtiar, covering PLO

bombings and reporting on the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

But in 1984, having decided he accomplished enough in journalism, he

found himself in Louisville managing the public relations of Humana, a

Fortune 200 healthcare corporation and, at the time, one of the nation’s

largest hospital companies. That year, Dr. William C. DeVries set a

medical milestone by implanting an artificial heart at a Humana hospital

- Noland’s PR effort surrounding this event is still remembered today.

Noland has reorganized the PR department and converted it to cover the

full spectrum of corporate communications.


Name: Susan Odenthal

Company: Ethicon

Title: Executive director, communications

Public relations for medical devices and surgical procedures is

practiced far less broadly than in the pharmaceutical market.

Nonetheless, Susan Odenthal has successfully used PR to support launches

and consumer education about different surgical treatments and products

for wound closure for Ethicon, the world’s leading maker of

wound-management technologies. Most recently, Odenthal led a campaign to

promote a less-invasive alternative to hysterectomy and another for an

adhesive alternative to stitches. Besides generating sweeping media

coverage, Ethicon’s products have been featured in network television’s

hospital dramas. Odenthal was a print reporter before getting into PR

and her peers commonly praise her as an exceptional media



Name: Teel Oliver

Company: Merck & Co.

Title: Vice president, government relations

Teel Oliver has built Merck’s current government relations staff, which

is widely regarded by members of Congress and their staffs as one of the

best - if not the best - government relations teams in the nation’s


Oliver played a key lobbying role resulting in the enactment of the

Childhood Vaccine Compensation Act, providing no-fault compensation for

children injured by a vaccine. She was also a key lobbyist for the drug

export legislation, which allows the export of prescription drugs

approved in developed countries but not yet in the US. Teel has built

her career in law and politics. She holds a JD degree and before joining

Merck worked in various New Jersey state departments and in the state’s

Supreme Court system.


Name: Nancy Peterson

Company: Roche Palo Alto

Title: Vice president, communications & public affairs

Unlike other pharmaceutical companies, which usually concentrate their

research into one or two centers, Roche has six research centers in six

locations around the world. Nancy Peterson is responsible for designing

and implementing the program that for the first time fostered cohesive

communications among the centers while maintaining their different


Based in Palo Alto, Peterson also oversees Roche’s community relations

efforts in northern California. Famous for her out-of-the-box thinking,

she recently held a fund-raiser for a local arthritis foundation

featuring a lineup of comedians, called ’Laugher is Great Medicine.’

Lured into biotech during the sector’s glory days of the mid-’80s,

Peterson is best known for being one of the first women in sports



Name: Doug Petkus

Company: Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories

Title: Assistant vice president, US communications

Doug Petkus got to Wyeth-Ayerst in 1996 just in time to experience the

rise and demise of one of the most talked-about drugs in recent memory,

Redux. While the recall of the anti-obesity drug has kept his plate

full, Petkus has also been involved in several subsequent success

stories, including the launch of Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis and

Sonata for sleep disorders.

With a staff of eight and a department budget of dollars 5 million,

Petkus also supports the company’s line of leading vaccines. He hails

from a long heritage in healthcare, entering on the agency side (Hill &

Knowlton, Manning, Selvage & Lee) after a stint as a reporter and anchor

for ABC, then working at pharma companies Schering-Plough and Abbott

Laboratories before joining W-A.


Name: Pam Rasmussen

Company: Janssen Pharmaceutica

Title: Vice president, public relations

As a member of the management board of one of the largest subsidiaries

of Johnson & Johnson, Pam Rasmussen has a finger in just about every pie

at Janssen. Internally, she re-engineered the company’s employee

communications program and launched Janssen’s first intranet.

Externally, she has built partnerships with key advocacy groups and

opinion leaders for the safe use of pharmaceuticals. She has also

introduced virtual-reality technology into Janssen’s efforts to educate

journalists, physicians and consumers about what it’s like to live with

severe mental illness. Rasmussen came to Janssen from Searle, where she

had a hand in market development for Celebrex.


Name: Marily H. Rhudy

Company: American Home Products Title: Vice president, global public


With the government more involved in regulating the industry, Marily

Rhudy has her hands full trying to create a favorable environment for

the marketing, sales and promotion of AHP’s products. Rhudy leads a

60-member staff responsible for corporate and division PR, global health

policy, third-party and professional affairs, US state govern- ment

relations, international trade relations and international government

affairs. She devotes herself to influencing and affecting the outcome of

government decisions.She meets frequently with officials at the World

Health Organization, World Trade Organization, World Bank and other

policy setting organizations.

Rhudy is a pharmacist and earlier in her career was the president and

chair of the American Pharmaceutical Association.


Name: Marty Rosen

Company: Aetna US Healthcare

Title: Communications head

Marty Rosen is dedicated to delivering one message on all fronts: that

technology is the key to better healthcare at an affordable cost.

Aetna’s communications area moves to stay one step ahead as technology

creates more ways for members, customers and healthcare providers to

interact with the company online. Recent initiatives include a traveling

exhibit highlighting the future of healthcare; public affairs training

for key employees nationwide emphasizing the company’s uses of

technology; and humorous commercials that send viewers to Aetna’s Web

site for health information. Rosen - with more than 25 of years

experience in marketing, communications and managed care - has been with

the insurer since it bought his former company, NYLCare Health Plans, in



Name: Jay Silverstein

Company: UnitedHealthcare

Title: Chief marketing officer

Jay Silverstein has been at UnitedHealthcare less than a year, but he’s

already stirring things up. He orchestrated the ’Care Coordination’

announcement when UnitedHealthcare said that doctors would make

healthcare decisions for their members. This single announcement was

among the most recognized stories of the year, according to a recent

Kaiser Foundation survey. Silverstein has also implemented the ’What

Works for You?’ program, which includes an external advertising campaign

and an internal campaign challenging employees to be more customer

focused. Silverstein was previously at Oxford Health Plans, where he was

responsible for creating and implementing the consumer-driven vision

that helped Oxford achieve unprecedented growth in the managed care



Name: Benjamin A. Singer

Company: PacifiCare Health Systems

Title: Vice president, public relations

Given the award-winning community outreach and issues management

programs that Ben Singer’s team has been cranking out over the past

several years, it is only to be expected that PacifiCare of California

is one of the state’s most successful health plans. Most of the

company’s communications budget is dedicated to PR. Under Singer’s

leadership, PacifiCare formed partnerships with consumer advocacy groups

(usually antagonistic towards managed care) to educate consumers about

the benefits of managed care.

His team has also won awards for its efforts in announcing the

acquisition of FHP International and for its handling of a crisis

surrounding PacifiCare’s policy on a children’s vaccine program. Singer

was at Fleishman-Hillard before joining PacifiCare.


Name: Don Tassone

Company: Procter & Gamble Title: Director, public affairs, Health

Care/Corporate New Ventures, Food and Beverage

While P&G is better known for Ivory soap than it is for medicine, the

dollars 38 billion company’s pharmaceutical interests have captured a

lot of attention recently surrounding its thwarted attempt to buy out

American Home Products and Warner-Lambert. While P&G is well established

in consumer products, in pharmaceuticals ’we’re gaining momentum,’ says

public affairs director Don Tassone. Communications has taken on added

importance as the company builds its reputation as a major player in

healthcare globally.

And Tassone’s passion for improving people’s health rivals that of his

peers at the traditional pharma manufacturers. ’PR is a tool to help

keep people healthy - even save lives,’ he says. Like a true P&Ger,

Tassone has spent his entire 20-year career at the company, working his

way across businesses.


Name: Richard Wade

Company: American Hospital Association

Title: Senior vice president, communications

In addition to serving as the AHA’s principal media liaison, Rick Wade

frequently speaks on the public’s changing perception of healthcare, a

topic that is increasingly difficult to keep in front of these days. He

also oversees ’Reality ,’ an ongoing association research program that

helps develop strategies for members to address public perceptions at

the community level. Wade started out as a newspaper reporter in

Maryland before working on political campaigns and holding posts for

elected Maryland officials. A little known fact about Wade is that he

has written more than a dozen plays and musicals, and has directed

productions for a number of theater and opera companies.


Name: Nancy Walker

Company: Ortho-McNeil

Title: Vice president, pharmaceutical communications

With the proliferation of news and information channels, especially

through the Internet, Nancy Walker invests a lot of time making sure her

team at Ortho-McNeil integrates new media into the traditional media mix

when implementing communications strategies. She brings to the company

the experience she gained as senior vice president at Hill & Knowlton,

where she developed widely acclaimed programs, including the ’Whatever

Happened to Mikey?’ campaign for Quaker Life cereal and the Kellogg

’Kids for Healthy Hearts’ public education campaign. In addition to her

other achievements, Walker co-founded the National Collaborative Fund

for Healthy Girls, Healthy Women, which has distributed dollars 3

million to health and wellness projects for girls ages 9 to 15.


Name: Jan D. Weiner

Company: Merck

Title: Executive director, public affairs, US Human Health Division

A guru of marketing communications, Jan Weiner is recognized for having

built a team of public affairs professionals within Merck who specialize

in prescription medicines and industry issues. Since joining the company

in 1989, Weiner has overseen the announcement of 18 different FDA

approvals (and counting), including Crixivan for the treatment of

AIDS/HIV, Fosamax for osteoporosis and Zocor for high cholesterol. She

also manages the PR surrounding many of the company’s scientific

publications and presentations.

Previously, Weiner developed award-winning campaigns as vice president

of Burson-Marsteller’s Chicago healthcare practice, after having worked

as a journalist with the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.


Name: Edward A. West

Company: Eli Lilly

Title: Director of public relations

When Prozac, the world’s most widely sold antidepressant, was launched

about 12 years ago, there were times when Ed West and his team at Eli

Lilly did 30 interviews a day, adding up to about 2,500 interviews in a

five-year period. Prozac’s PR effort, which was designed to defend the

drug against a nationwide smear campaign as well as to destigmatize

depression, has become a model used to this day to launch and promote

drugs in a range of therapeutic categories. After 13 years at the

company - first in sales and marketing and then as a lobbyist - West

joined the PR department 15 years ago and was instrumental in

integrating the communications function into the corporate management



Name: Jeffrey A. Winton

Company: Pharmacia & Upjohn

Title: Global executive director, public relations & patient


When Pharmacia and Upjohn merged in 1995, the new company decided to

re-build several departments from the ground up instead of trying to

merge the departments of both companies. Public relations was among

them, and Jeff Winton was selected as chief architect in 1998 when the

company relocated its management center to Bridgewater, NJ. Winton built

a strong, cross-functional, global PR team and has handpicked every

person in his department.

He has also successfully integrated a new responsibility - third-party

advocacy - into the activities of PR and patient education. Winton

joined P&U from Hoffmann-LaRoche, and before that worked with

pharmaceutical accounts on the agency side after passing through the

marketing communications department of American Home Products.


Name: Sally Benjamin Young

Company: Searle

Title: Vice president, public affairs

In her first year at Searle, Sally Benjamin Young led the public

relations campaign that helped Celebrex become what has been called the

most successful launch in pharmaceutical history - with record-setting

sales of dollars 1.5 billion and more new prescriptions than the next

two leading blockbusters combined.

Media coverage for Celebrex, a treatment for arthritis, correlated

directly with increases in prescription volume, with more than 3.2

billion total media impressions helping drive more than 17 million total


Young’s career spans 20 years in diverse disciplines and settings,

having worked in advertising, marketing communications and public

relations in hospital, agency and corporate environments before her

position in pharmaceutical public affairs.

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