Athena bags Servier's anti-depressant brief

Servier Laboratories this week confirmed the UK agency support behind its new anti-depressant, Valdoxan.

Athena Medical PR has secured a contract to steer the brand to market next year.

The drug is the French firm's first foray into the UK mental health arena, with Valdoxan poised to enter the controversial and crowded market 'during 2007'.

Valdoxan combines antidepressant efficacy with 'favourable' side effects – it has the additional benefit of sleep regulation in depressive patients, according to data unveiled last year.

Positive side effects would prove a major fillip for Athena's campaign: the mental health arena is a tough one in which to operate given negative headlines over drugs such as GlaxoSmithKline's Seroxat.

Athena director of UK business Beverly Evans said: 'Valdoxan promises to bring a new proposition to market.'

Dr Marcus Roberts, head of policy at mental health charity Mind, told PRWeek: 'As with any new drug it is important that patients are given the fullest information possible. All too often, claims of few side effects aren't borne out in the field.'

Servier appointed Athena after a competitive pitch against 'several' agencies. The agency has worked on various campaigns for Servier in the past.

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