NEWS: Astra picks H&K for Losec push

Hill and Knowlton is tipped to be appointed by Astra Pharmaceuticals to handle PR for its gastric ulcer treatment Losec - Europe’s biggest- selling prescription drug.

Hill and Knowlton is tipped to be appointed by Astra Pharmaceuticals to

handle PR for its gastric ulcer treatment Losec - Europe’s biggest-

selling prescription drug.



H&K’s healthcare division, headed by Noel Hall, submitted credentials to

the Swedish drugs group in the summer and pitched two weeks ago against

Shire Hall, Interscience and Macclesfield-based Gardiner Caldwell.



Losec product manager Sean Doughty said he could not discuss details of

the account until they were finalised within Astra and ‘until a legal

agreement had been completed with any PR suppliers’.



However the brief is believed to focus on increasing GP’s understanding

of Losec and may also include some PR work directed at consumers and

pharmacists.



Losec is a proton pump inhibitor which targets the cells which secrete

the acid that causes ulcers.



Doughty described the market as ‘highly competitive.’ The medicine

competes against rival proton pump inhibitors like Lansoprazole,

produced by Lederle.



It is also up against the fast- selling over-the-counter H2-antagonists,

which neutralise stomach acid, such as Pepcid, Zantac 75 and Tagamet.



Astra is reported to be considering selling the Losec brand over-the-

counter in some markets at the beginning of the next century when its

patent expires.



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