Novartis restructure nears end

Novartis UK is on the verge of completing a wide-ranging comms restructure, which it began 18 months ago.

The pharma company has just hired a cardiovascular and diabetes comms manager. It is also closing in on ­appointing a UK corporate comms manager - the final piece of the jigsaw.

The across-the-board changes have seen all of ­Novartis' UK-based PROs broaden their remits. They have been masterminded by Jason Browning, who took over as UK director of ­comms in September 2005.

Browning said the chan­ges were made because a range of comms skills are now ­required to promote the various drugs on the market.

He added: ‘We didn't have the scope to have people specialising any longer. It has been a flattening of the structure so that the Novartis ­comms manager position now is much more general.'

The new cardiovascular and diabetes comms manager will join in June. Novartis would not reveal his or her name but it is understood the new person is currently at an agency.

The UK corporate comms manager will not be responsible for product comms, but all other new comms posts will cover this aspect. Browning said the focus on product comms was a reflection of greater launch activity: during 2007 Novartis is planning eight product launches - its most in a year for a decade.

Novartis has put emphasis on devising campaigns for pre-launch and launch prescription drugs, so-called ‘market access' products.

Joanna Lem, previously PR manager, is now comms manager for market access products, with a remit that includes media relations, government affairs and ­patient advocacy. Comms executive Gareth Lyon also works on this brief.

Former PR manager Sally Irvine is now marcoms manager for infectious diseases, transplant and immunology, with comms exec Nikki Roberts supporting her.

Fiona Turner, formerly Novartis head of PR, is head of comms in its oncology unit. There is also a four-strong customer events team.

Novartis is the world's third largest pharma company in terms of group sales.

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