Almirall loss signals latest blow for HSD

Healthcare specialist HSDCommunicate has lost a longstanding client to the agency set up by two of its former directors.

Pharmaceutical firm Almirall UK has given its dermatology portfolio to rival Signature Communications, the agency set up last year by former HSD directors Siobhan Wastie and Cerys Evans.

Wastie and Evans have also hired former HSD senior account manager Emma O'Callaghan, who left the agency last year, to join them and lead the Almirall account.

The developments are a fresh blow for HSD, coming just two months after founder and MD Lesley Scott left the agency.

Scott quit in February citing 'disagreements' with marcoms company Gyro, which bought the healthcare consultancy last year (PRWeek, 6 February). She walked out after 11 years at the helm without a job lined up.

Signature will handle the UK medical education and PR activity for Almirall following a competitive pitch. The agency will initially work on the company's Solaraze brand, as well as the wider dermatology portfolio later this year.

The agency will kick off activity with a co-ordinated medical education and diseases awareness programme for Solaraze. The nationwide activity will aim to raise awareness of actinic keratosis - skin lesions caused by sun damage that can be a precursor to skin cancer.

Actinic keratosis is the most common sun-related growth but only six per cent of the population are aware of the condition. There are 10,000 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each month in the UK, with 26 per cent identified in the South East of England.

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