AstraZeneca enlists Red Door for Crestor

Anglo-Swedish pharma giant AstraZeneca is to overhaul the UK PR strategy for its anti-cholesterol drug Crestor, having appointed Red Door Communications to replace three-year incumbent Burson-Marsteller.

B-M was one of four agencies that pitched for the account to promote Crestor, a prescription medicine used to treat high levels of cholesterol and widely seen as AZ’s most important new drug.

Crestor launched in the UK in March last year and has subsequently launched in the US.

AZ came under fire in October in medical magazine The Lancet, which claimed the drug had not been tested sufficiently and that the marketing behind the drug had been ‘unprincipled’.

But AZ chief executive Sir Tom McKillop called The Lancet’s attack ‘outrageous’ and said its safety profile was similar to other drugs in its class.

Crestor and blood-thinning drug Exanta are key to AZ’s strategy for replacing sales of top-selling stomach-ulcer pill Losec, upon sales of which AZ’s success has been based.

In PRWeek’s Pharma Focus chart, which ranks drugs for specific medical conditions according to brand awareness among GPs, Crestor scored lower than some rivals, including

Pfizer’s Lipitor, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Lipostat and Novartis’s Lescol (PRWeek, 5 September 2003).

AZ communications manager Kirsty Walker said B-M had done a ‘fantastic job’ for the company, but that it was ‘time for a change’.

Shire Health International’s retained account to co-ordinate international PR for Crestor is unaffected by the UK appointment for Red Door, which was confirmed last week.

Red Door managing director Catherine Warne leads an account team alongside associate director Catherine Devaney at the south-west London-based agency, which has grown to 22 staff since it launched more than three years ago.

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