A standard early summer story?
We are certainly well and truly into pollen season, but this one is a bit different. Last week newspapers were full of the results of a clinical trial for a new product, Pollinex Quattro, which treats seasonal allergic rhino-conjunctivitis (SAR) caused by grass pollen - hayfever to you and me.
Why is it so different?
Because it works by training the immune system to tolerate pollen - a radical departure from what has gone before. Antihistamines, for example, commonly used on hayfever sufferers, treat the symptoms only. This new drug comes in the form of four injections, taken over a few weeks, which have dramatically reduced the effects of the condition in the trial.
OK, who makes it?
A pharma company called Allergy Therapeutics, based in Worthing. Financial Dynamics handles PR for the company, with agency managing directors David Yates and Ben Brewerton running the account. The client's R&D director Tom Holdich, marketing director Kevin Wilkinson and chief executive Keith Carter have been conducting media interviews.
What were the main challenges?
For FD, getting the client out of the business pages and into general news. It helped that the trial results were peer-reviewed in New Scientist, which gave the data extra clout for science correspondents.
What are the key messages?
This was the world's largest trial ever for an allergy vaccine, taking in more than 1,000 patients in the US, Canada and Europe. The patients had suffered from SAR for an average of more than 20 years and the trial proved the product was both safe and effective. Also, the course of injections is relatively short.
So this would be sold over the counter?
No, a doctor would have to administer the jabs. But sufferers are likely to see this as a small inconvenience, because other courses of injections are much longer. Allergies are becoming more common in the UK and other developed countries, although scientists are not sure why, and the worldwide market for allergy treatments is estimated to be in excess of £5bn.
What's the timescale?
The company expects to file for European regulatory approval early next year, which means the product could be available for the 2009 pollen season.
Further information www.allergytherapeutics.com.