C&W snaps up coveted global Symbicort brief

Cohn & Wolfe has won one of the pharma sector's most keenly fought single-product contests in recent months, securing the international contract for AstraZeneca's respiratory brand Symbicort.

AZ handed C&W the brief, believed to be worth around £500,000, after a five-way battle. The contract was previously held for two years by Virgo Health PR, which declined to repitch.

Munro & Forster Communications, which handles UK PR for Symbicort, Weber Shandwick, Athena Medical PR and Denmark's GCI Mannov all scrapped it out for the business.

Symbicort, a combination inhaler for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is in competition with GlaxoSmithKline's Seretide. An experimental new regimen for Symbicort, under which patients increase their dose as symptoms worsen, is currently being trialled.

The new regimen may be approved in Europe, the drug's major market, later this year, while a US launch is expected in early 2007.

C&W UK joint healthcare MD Jeremy Clark and account director Gemma Malone worked on Symbicort's UK launch at Munro & Forster. The pair will form part of a sizeable C&W London team on the business, working alongside staff at the agency's office in Copenhagen - just across the water from AZ global marketers in Lund, Sweden.

Virgo said it had declined to repitch because between December 2005 and January 2006 it gained six new accounts and two new clients, worth overall fees of £550,000. This includes its work for Lilly's anti-depressant Cymbalta (PRWeek, 27 January).

Virgo added that it was unable to disclose details of its other account wins.

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