WASHINGTON: The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) recently hired Qorvis Communications to provide "strategic communications" as part of a larger effort by the association to more aggressively promote its members' good works.
Neither Qorvis nor PhRMA would provide details on the size or scope of the contract, though, according to the National Journal, PhRMA reportedly will be Qorvis' third-largest customer, after Saudi Arabia and United Technologies. Qorvis MD Rich Masters said no RFP was issued for the contract.
As the major trade association representing US drug companies, PhRMA in recent years has sought to counter widely negative perceptions about the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently, PhRMA issued a statement refuting claims by the AARP that US drug makers charge inflated prices.
Ken Johnson, PhRMA SVP, said that since he and PhRMA CEO Billy Tauzin, the former Democratic congressman from Louisiana, joined PhRMA in 2005, it has been much more outgoing in promoting the value of the industry's products and charitable work. PhRMA also works with Edelman, APCO Worldwide, and Dittus Communications, Johnson said.
"When we came here a year and a half ago, we were at rock bottom in terms of public opinion," Johnson said. "We've moved the needle up significantly in the past year and a half by aggressively telling our side of the story."
Masters said his firm already had been helping PhRMA promote the Medicare prescription drug benefits program through a US bus tour and will continue that work as part of the new contract.
He added that Qorvis plans soon to announce the hiring of five employees for what could form the basis of a larger healthcare practice.
"We consider this a launch point to really work with any drug or healthcare-related companies," Masters said.