AZ lures Murdoch for flagship pill Seroquel

AstraZeneca has recruited a former Porter Novelli associate director to handle UK comms for its schizophrenia treatment Seroquel – one of its flagship medicines.

Michelle Murdoch has joined as brand comms manager ahead of an important year for the pill, a recent standout success for AZ.

Four months ago it asked US regulators to approve Seroquel as a treatment for depression. It expects to make a similar filing in Europe next year.

Global sales of Seroquel grew by 35 per cent to around £1.15bn last year, and similar growth is expected during 2006.

The product – which is facing a patent challenge from Israeli firm Teva – is already used to treat schizophrenia and manic behaviour associated with bipolar disorder, a mental illness that also causes depression.

Murdoch reports to UK brand leader Nick Lavery and replaces Beth Birke, who has left AZ to relocate to her native US. Murdoch also partly reports to AZ UK comms leader David Prager.

Munro & Forster Communications handles UK PR for Seroquel. Murdoch said AZ had no plans to review its account.

AZ hired Hill & Knowlton last year to handle global comms for the product (PRWeek, 22 July 2005).

Murdoch left PN after five years in May 2004 to go on maternity leave. She previously worked at Barclay Stratton. Prior to that she was a journalist on various Emap publications.

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