AT A GLANCE: Boehringer Ingelheim readies Pradaxa for market

Is this a new drug? Pradaxa, an anti-clotting tablet made by German pharma giant Boehringer Ingelheim, is currently going through the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)'s approval process. It is designed to prevent venous thrombo-embolism (VTE).

So VTE is a big problem?
A remarkably big one: VTE causes one in ten fatalities in hospital and kills at least 25,000 people in England every year. To put it into context, that is more than 20 times the number of deaths attributed to the superbug MRSA - an extraordinary statistic given the amount of media attention that MRSA receives.

Who handles PR?
Chandler Chicco Agency offshoot Litmus, based in London and set up earlier this year (PRWeek, 31 January). Best known for medical education work, it is in charge of the global PR programme for Pradaxa. The account is led by consultant Camilla Bull, who is well-versed in this area: she used to work on AstraZeneca's Exanta, an anti-VTE drug that was withdrawn two years ago after it was found to cause liver problems in some patients.

Any other comms support?
Wave Healthcare Communications. It handles media relations for Pradaxa in the UK and Wave founding director Rod Ball leads the account. Pradaxa has also benefitted from some priceless third party advocacy from charities - in particular from Anti-Coagulation Europe and Lifeblood, which have both made positive noises in media interviews.

Has there been much press about this?
A fair bit, the most recent of which was a news story and a leader in The Times on Monday. The editorial piece was particularly supportive of the idea of the new pill although Pradaxa is up against a couple of well-established rivals in the field: the generic warfarin, which is 50 years old, and Sanofi-Aventis' Clexane, which is given in injection form. These drugs work well, so the convenience of Pradaxa for patients will be emphasised.

What are the other key comms arguments?
VTE is the number one preventable death in hospital and Pradaxa should help patients easily receive guideline care. The science is also compelling, and Litmus is attempting to make sure the data is crystal clear in factsheets, releases and so on.

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