Red Door scoops Merck account

Merck Pharmaceuticals has appointed Red Door Communications to handle its colorectal cancer products Erbitux and Uftoral in the UK.

The move, which comes at a critical time for Erbitux (see At a Glance ), follows a competitive pitch against undis­closed agencies.

Red Door replaces Huntsworth Health (HH), which said that it had finished working on the account on 22 December and did not participate in the repitch.

HH said in a statement: ‘Changes to the teams at HH and Merck meant that the New Year was the opportune moment for a fresh start all round.’

Erbitux, which was launched in the UK in June 2004, last week suffered the body blow of a thumbs-down from NICE, which has decided not to approve the drug for the NHS on financial grounds. The treatment will continue to be available

Red Door has placed a five-strong team on the account, which is being led by deputy MD Julia Harries.

Red Door said: ‘Merck will attempt to continue to work with patient groups and healthcare professionals to try to increase awareness and understanding of the treatment options that are licensed for patients with colorectal cancer and for which there are a wealth of supportive clinical data.’

Chandler Chicco Agency continues to hold an international contract for Erbitux – an account it said was unaffected by the UK rethink.

HH was formed last autumn after the merger of Huntsworth’s healthcare advertising, PR and med ed agencies (PRWeek, 28 September 2006).

The brand of Avenue HKM – one of HH’s con­stituent companies and which won the Erbitux account in 2004 (PRWeek, 23 July 2004) – was scrapped in the move.

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