Diabetes drug gets the Virgo treatment

Virgo Health PR has landed a brief to promote a new diabetes drug launching in the UK later this year.

Biopharmaceutical firm Bristol-Myers Squibb and drug company AstraZeneca are behind the drug, Onglyza. Healthcare agency Virgo has been appointed to handle the PR for the pre-launch drug following a competitive pitch.

The drug is being launched in the UK in the last quarter of this year.

Just Health PR and Clew Communications are also believed to have been appointed following a separate pitch to handle the European PR support for the launch for the drug.

Bristol-Myers Squibb declined to comment on the appointments but confirmed that a pitch for the drug had taken place. All of the agencies involved declined to comment.

News of the appointments follows reports last month that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has soa-red by 50 per cent in just a year.

The surge represents one new sufferer every three minutes. Official figures show at least 150,000 new cases were diagnosed last year, up from 100,000 in 2007.

The vast majority are middle-aged people with type two diabetes. The rise is being linked to obesity through poor diet and lack of exercise. The results are based on reports from GPs and were revealed by the charity Diabetes UK.

There are currently 2.5 million people in the UK with diabetes and it is estimated that more than half a million people have the condition but do not know it.

The charity is also kicking off a campaign that is being fronted by former EastEnders and Love Actually actress Martine McCutcheon.

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