Novartis steals Metcalfe from C&W for US comms

NEW YORK/BASEL: Swiss drugs giant Novartis has poached Kathryn Metcalfe from PR agency Cohn & Wolfe to become its head of US pharmaceutical communications.

Metcalfe has quit C&W after seven years – during which period she ran the New York healthcare practice and latterly the New York office – to join the world’s fifth-largest drugs firm in its top US PR job.

She will start work on 4 October and replaces Greg Baird, who left the company seven months ago.

Metcalfe will report to Novartis US president and CEO Paulo Costa and take charge of more than 20 US pharma communications staff.

C&W is set to replace Metcalfe, who was European vice-president and general manager of C&W New York, internally with agency stalwart Jennifer Gottlieb.

Prior to joining C&W, Metcalfe was senior vice-president of Sciens Worldwide Public Relations. She also formerly worked at Noonan/Russo Communications.

Baird resurfaced in August at the helm of Porter Novelli’s New York healthcare team.

Metcalfe’s appointment comes as Novartis prepares to launch a recruitment process to fill a newly created role likely to carry the title of head of global brand communications.

The Basel-based post will lead Novartis’s PR efforts for branded primary-care drugs, said head of global comms Bob Pearson, who added that there was no predetermined timescale on the recruitment process.

Brands in the Novartis stable include Diovan, Lamictal, Zelnorm and Xolair.

In July, Novartis reported a 19 per cent rise in profits for the first half of 2004 above analysts’ expectations.

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