NEW YORK: Weber Shandwick (WS) has picked up a lucrative account from biopharmaceutical company Gilead. The agency will handle PR for Gilead's hepatitis B drug Hepsera.
The agency lured the business away from Edelman, and it is a "sizeable" account, according to Laura Schoen, WS' global head of healthcare. The agency will support the drug in the US, where it is already being sold, and help launch it in Europe.
The firm's efforts will be largely focused on education and awareness.
"We will teach people about the symptoms of hepatitis B so that it does not go undetected," Schoen explained.
Amy Flood, associate director of public affairs for Gilead, said healthcare providers will also be targeted "to ensure accurate diagnoses" of the disease.
Although hepatitis B is often thought of as a sexually transmitted disease, Schoen said outreach to educate audiences on how to protect themselves against the disease will not be a part of WS' initiative. "This is about treatment, not prevention," confirmed Schoen.
People of Asian descent were cited as one of the target audiences, as they tend to have a higher rate of the disease.
Led from New York, the agency has 20 team members from various offices working on the account globally. Launch activities are being managed out of WS' Barcelona office because of the prevalence of the disease throughout Southern Europe.
More than 350 million people around the world are infected with hepatitis B.