Amie Malkin will join AZ on 18 June after 12 years with BM. She is currently MD and chair of the agency's London healthcare practice.
Her move ends a seven-month search by the pharma giant for a permanent successor to former UK comms leader David Prager. He quit last year to go to global diamond group De Beers as head of media relations and comms (PRWeek, 22 September 2006).
Malkin worked with BM in New York and San Francisco before moving to the London office seven years ago.
Jonathan Jordan, BM's UK chief executive, said a senior appointment in the healthcare team is expected to be confirmed ‘within weeks'.
Malkin will replace Jeannine Nolan, who is acting in the comms leader post at AZ at present. Nolan, who took up her current role last October, has made a name as a senior interim comms specialist.
Apart from a short-lived, three-month spell in a permanent job at Red Door Communications in 2006, where she was business unit director, consumer healthcare, Nolan has spent the last six years freelancing.
AstraZeneca hit the headlines this week with news of its £7.7bn purchase of US biotech firm Medimmune. The deal depressed AZ's share price after analysts criticised the purchase price.