The brand review coincides with the publication of a National Institute of Clinical Excellence consultation document on treatments for the bone-thinning disease that affects one in three women.
MSD has shortlisted agencies, with an appointment expected within two months.
Incumbent agency Galliard is understood to be pitching, along with Packer Forbes Communications, for a contract for which an MSD spokesman said the budget had yet to be finalised.
Under the NICE proposals, revealed last month, the drugs most widely used against bone-thinning – Fosamax, plus Procter & Gamble’s Didronel and Actonel products – would be available only to those who had already suffered a fracture.
The supply of Eli Lilly & Co’s Forsteo, touted as the first drug to do more than stop the condition worsening, would be restricted and Lilly’s Evista would not be allowed at all. Both Lilly brands are promoted by Red Door Communications.
Meanwhile, the National Osteoporosis Society this week pledged to step up PR work as it bids to fight the NICE proposals.
NOS deputy CEO Jackie Parrington has blasted the NICE plans, published last month, as ‘ludicrous’, saying many women will be denied necessary treatment.
‘We want people to join us in voicing opposition to this document,’ she said.
The final NICE guidelines on osteoporosis drugs are set to be published in June.