Barker’s promotion comes after five years as chief executive of the agency’s medical comms arm.
He has spent 30 years in the biopharmaceuticals sector in a career that has encompassed stints at Novartis and GSK, as well as senior roles at leading medical communications and strategy consulting firms.
Barker is a former European managing director for medical comms at Huntsworth Group, and was founding partner of healthcare strategy agency Central Group.
“I am excited to be leading such a talented and expert team who have been instrumental in growing OPEN Health to its current position,” he said.
“We are now in a place to take even greater strides forward, and I feel confident that our continued focus on client service and scientific excellence will drive increased growth in the business.”
Rowley commented: “I have been CEO of OPEN Health since its inception, and I am incredibly proud of the company that we have built. This is the right time for me to be stepping down, and I wish Rob and the whole OPEN Health team continued success.”
Ramsey Frank, managing partner and co-founder of Amulet Capital Partners, which owns the agency, described Barker as an “outstanding strategic and operational leader” and added: “We are confident that he is the ideal executive to lead OPEN Health through its next exciting stage of growth.”
He thanked Rowley for taking the agency “from an initial idea to a leading global healthcare communications group". Frank added: “All his colleagues at OPEN Health are grateful to him and wish him well for the future. David will work with us in an advisory capacity to ensure a smooth transition.”
Founded in 2011 as a joint venture with Chime Communications to create a multidisciplinary health communications and market access group, OPEN Health has three main business areas: medical communications; patient and brand communications; and value, informatics and evidence.
At the end of 2018 OPEN Health merged with Peloton Advantage, a firm that specialises in strategic publication planning and associated content development for medical education programmes.
OPEN Health had £13m revenue in the UK in 2019, which accounted for half its global revenue of £26m.
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