Merck to promote drug discount program through variety of media outlets

WHITEHOUSE STATION, NJ: Merck is moving away from its traditional media relation's strategy as it becomes the most recent company to promote a drug discount program for the uninsured.

WHITEHOUSE STATION, NJ: Merck is moving away from its traditional media relation's strategy as it becomes the most recent company to promote a drug discount program for the uninsured.

Instead of business reporters, the drug company will target features reporters, consumer magazines, radio shows, and black and Hispanic outlets, noted Maggie Kohn, director of corporate responsibility communications.

"Our primary goal in the type of coverage we want to get is to reach people who are uninsured," she said. "They're more likely to read their local newspaper than The Wall Street Journal."

In addition to media relations, Merck is relying on political leaders and advocacy groups to "help us be arms and legs across the country," Kohn said.

She confirmed that Merck is working with a few agencies, but declined to name them.

A survey by Zogby International, commissioned by Merck, is driving the messages, which will tout the free and easy sign-up, Kohn noted.

"Once the program was in place, we really wanted to know what are the barriers that impede the uninsured from taking advantage of these programs," she said.

The initiative is the newest addition to the recently launched Partnership for Prescription Assistance, a drug discount awareness program.

Trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is leading the coalition, working with APCO Worldwide.

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