F-H loses Humira due to conflict of interest

Abbott Laboratories has pulled the UK account for rheumatoid arthritis product Humira out of Fleishman-Hillard, citing a potential conflict of interest with a UCB Pharma product.

Both Humira and UCB's Cimzia – which F-H promotes globally – are being trialled as treatments for Crohn's disease. Cimzia is
also being trialled for rheumatoid arthritis.

Abbott is understood to have told F-H it was uncomfortable with the agency's simultaneous work on the products. Humira is in phase-II trials for Crohn's, while Cimzia has just completed phase-III trials.
Abbott moved without delay to hand the Humira account to Weber Shandwick. WS, whose London office referred PRWeek to Abbott, is thought to have been runner-up in the original pitch for the account last year.

The pharma company said: 'We confirm that due to a conflict of interest at F-H, Abbott has moved the Humira external affairs account to another agency.'

The account was believed to be worth around £250,000 annually to F-H. It has only won the business in the past few months. The agency's regional director for the UK, Ireland and South Africa, Kevin Bell declined to comment on fees but said: 'Conflicts of interest inevitably do arise.'

Bell said Abbott remained one of F-H's biggest clients worldwide across PR and public affairs.

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