WS snares global Cervarix account

Weber Shandwick has signed a deal to oversee global PR for Cervarix, GlaxoSmithKline’s pre-launch cervical cancer treatment.

The drug – currently undergoing final clinical trials – is hotly tipped by analysts. Though not yet approved, it is already locked in an
eye-catching rivalry with a similar vaccine from US firm Merck.

The hire of WS, whose director Sally Evans is leading the account, further bolsters the PR investment GSK is throwing behind the brand. The firm had already brought in two agencies, Virgo Health PR and Clew Communications, to handle UK comms for the drug (PRWeek, 5 August).

Merck itself is stregthening PR efforts behind its rival pre-launch brand Gardasil. It is being promoted in the UK by Red Door Communications for joint venture Sanofi Pasteur MSD.

Trial results showing Gardasil's effectiveness at preventing the precursor changes that signal cervical cancer have hit national front pages in the past fortnight. The Independent claimed Merck 'stole a march' on GSK with Gardasil's trial results, which The Sun called 'sensational'.

GSK reportedly plans to hit back with Cervarix data within six months.

Reports suggest girls in Britain as young as ten could be given the treatments. But GSK and Merck are set to face the challenge of convincing governments to plough sufficient cash into mass vaccination programmes.

WS won a pitch overseen by GSK Biologicals in Belgium (PRWeek, 17 June).

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