Durbin already handles international distribution work, family planning supplies, unlicensed medicines, early access programmes and charity supplies. But the company is keen to expand by providing comparison drugs for clinical trials.
Durbin wants to position itself as the firm that can best source and distribute hard-to-find drugs worldwide. It has taken on its first external PR support in an attempt to raise its profile among pharmaceutical companies and win more business in the comparator drugs supply market.
The supplier particularly wants to demonstrate its experience in getting drugs to hard-to-reach communities as pharmaceutical firms are increasingly exporting clinical trials from Europe and the US to developing countries such as China and India.
At the end of the Gulf War, for example, Virgin Atlantic requested urgent supplies for the first flight to Basra. Durbin sent wheelchairs, oxygen masks, crutches and a range of cancer drugs.
Athena has been asked to implement a series of advocacy development and media campaigns for the firm. It will develop an integrated programme, providing strategic counsel and facilitating internal and external comms.
The aim is to drive and maintain Durbin's professional and consumer profile. Athena will target b2b publications in the medical sector. It will also run an education programme with stakeholders.
Strategic director James Harper said the agency would also publicise the fact Durbin shares all its financial information with its clients, so companies can see the breakdown of invoices.
'Although Durbin has worked in the comparator drug market supply field, this is the first time it has embarked on a proactive medical drive for the business,' said Harper.
Athena won the brief without pitch. It approached the firm after the loss of rival firm IDIS in May to Ogilvy Healthworld UK.