GSK in vaccine review amid global flu fears

RIXENSART, BELGIUM: Glaxo SmithKline is to beef up the comms support behind its increasingly high-profile vaccines business by hiring an agency later this year.

The move comes as GSK races to develop a weapon against a potential flu pandemic amid concerns that governments worldwide are ill-prepared for the risk to humans of avian flu.

Anne Walsh, V-P of worldwide comms at Belgium-based GSK Biologicals, is spearheading the agency hunt. A decision is likely to
be made by 'the middle of the year'.

GSK uses New York's Global Health Strategies for corporate comms surrounding its vaccines for diseases common in the developing world. But the brief currently up for grabs concerns advice on corporate communications more broadly across the Biologicals portfolio.

The appointed consultancy will 'support GSK's corporate vaccine themes to help shape the business environment on policy issues with global media'.

The brief is believed to involve a significant volume of US work.

GSK is planning for a potential mass outbreak of flu by investing in the development of a vaccine for the H5N1 strain. The firm submitted a 'mock-up' dossier for the vaccine composition to European regulators in late December.

Other major pre-launch GSK vaccines include Cervarix, for cervical cancer. Meanwhile, Rotarix – for gastroenteritis – is being rolled out across European markets as of last month.

GSK is using London-based Agency Assessments International to advise on the search.

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