UCB Pharma pitches brief for European Xyzal launch

BRUSSELS: UCB Pharma is to stage a pitch to find a PR agency for a newly created pan-European remit promoting its allergy franchise.

UCB head of pharma communications Margaret Morgan said she would draw up a three-strong shortlist for the contract, which will focus on promoting the antihistamine Xyzal.

They will be taken from the five undisclosed agencies with which she had already held discussions. Morgan said she wanted to boost UCB's position in the allergy market, 'raise awareness of allergies' and promote the rolling launch of Xyzal in all global markets outside North America.

Xyzal is available in all western European markets except Sweden - it became available in the UK 18 months ago - but Morgan said PR activity would also surround products 'still in development'.

She added that the contract with Ketchum, which promotes Xyzal in the UK, is not affected by the pan-European account, the final pitches for which are scheduled for the end of November.

Morgan said Ketchum was not one of the five agencies in the initial running for the pan-European remit. However, Morgan is 'in discussions' with Ketchum over global PR strategy for 2004 for UCB's CNS (central nervous system) product portfolio, which includes anti-epilepsy drug Keppra.

Morgan, who reports to director of global marketing François Meurgey, started work last month in the newly created role, overseeing a 15-strong in-house comms team, which she said she planned to 'beef up'.

She joined from the Merck and Aventis-owned animal health company Merial, where she was vice-president, communications. She left the firm four months ago when it relocated its global HQ from London to Atlanta.

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