Roche push to integrate activity

Roche has created a senior comms role in an attempt better to integrate UK PR activity within disease areas.

The drugs firm has promoted its oncology PR manager Greg Page to the post. He will take the title of senior PR strategy manager and will work across the firm’s portfolios. He will report to ­Roche UK director of communications Susie Hackett.

Hackett said: ‘It was felt that a senior role was needed to look at comms activity in a more strategic way and to integrate activity.’

Page joined Roche two years ago, working as a freelance consultant for three months before being made permanent PR manager for specialist products during a restructure of the UK PR operation (PRWeek, 17 June 2005). He has been replaced by Louise Pontifex, who joins from Edelman where she was an account director.

Roche’s cancer treatment portfolio is among its most high profile and includes Herceptin, the headline- grabbing treatment for early stage HER2-positive breast cancer, as well as Avastin and MabThera.

Herceptin has been hailed as a miracle cure for cancer sufferers by many and first attracted media attention in 2005 when Barbara Clark, a nurse with breast cancer, won an ­appeal to receive treatment with the drug despite an initial refusal by her local primary care trust.

More recent PR activity surrounding Herceptin and other oncology treatments included the release of a report earlier this month by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, funded by Roche, which claimed that patients living in countries that spend more money on cancer treatments have a better chance of surviving.

Page’s time as oncology PR manager also coincided with one of the most successful periods for the portfolio globally. Sales of Herceptin rose by 36 per cent during the first quarter of this year, according to the latest figures.

Strong sales of ­Roche’s other key drugs, including Tamiflu and Avastin, also helped Roche report a 15.6 per cent sales rise over the period.

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