International: Bayer plans Philippines PR for Levitra launch

MANILA: Pharmaceuticals group Bayer is planning a PR blitz across the Philippines to launch Levitra - the region’s long-awaited competitor to impotence drug Viagra.

Bayer has hired Edelman-affiliate EON to handle the Philippines launch, following a lengthy three-way pitch that started earlier this year.

It is understood that affiliate partner Edelman is handling Levitra’s PR on a regional basis.

Levitra was developed by Bayer, but fellow healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline is co-leading promotional efforts surrounding the new erectile dysfunction drug.

The rival to Pfizer’s Viagra has already been launched in Mexico and across Europe.

According to EON managing director Junie del Mundo, Levitra is being positioned as a health drug that addresses the problem of erectile dysfunction.

In contrast, Pfizer has until now positioned Viagra as a lifestyle drug.

Medical studies have estimated that erectile dysfunction affects more than 50 per cent of men over the age of 40.

EON senior consultant Robert de Quelen heads the account team, alongside consultants Anne Bautista Inlong, Nian Liwanag and Dr Luis Matro.

The agency reports directly to Bayer senior product manager Michael Arnonobal.

Levitra - also known as Vardenafil - is due to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the US later this year.

Bayer and co-marketers GSK hired Ogilvy PR Worldwide to handle branding and PR surrounding the drug in the US and internationally, ahead of FDA approval (PRWeek, 1 March 2002).

Eli Lilly launched its Viagra competitor, Cialis, in the UK in 2001.

The Red Consultancy won the Cialis UK PR business, while Cohn and Wolfe was hired last autumn to handle Levitra’s British communications work.

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