Charles Barker PR has been drafted in to advise UK drug manufacturers,
wholesalers and pharmacists on their fight to save Resale Price
Maintenance (RPM) - the law protecting price fixing on over-the-counter
The agency was hired by the Community Pharmacy Action Group, an
association of seven trade bodies formed last week to communicate the
benefits of RPM to the Office of Fair Trading.
The OFT was prompted to investigate the validity of RPM, following
Asda’s high profile campaign to slash vitamin prices last October.
Group member and drug industry body the Proprietary Association of Great
Britain shortlisted Charles Barker and Hill and Knowlton from six firms
two weeks ago (PR Week 26 January).
Charles Barker will argue the association’s case that ditching RPM will
lead to the closure of local pharmacists and the loss of vital services
to local customers.
CAPG Members including the National Pharmaceutical Association, British
Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers and Company Chemists
Association are surveying their 35,000 members to assess their reliance
on RPM. Charles Barker will then pool the information for use in its
campaign which, according to account director Sue Ashe, will target ‘all
those with input into the OFT’s decision’.
The agency is also planning an internal campaign to educate association
members about the drive to save RPM.
Ashe was unsure if the campaign could influence the OFT’s decision to
review RPM, expected in June. A review will extend the agency’s contract
from four months to up to two years.
‘All we can do is submit information to the OFT showing how much
turnover is represented by OTC medicines,’ she said. ‘The association
was concerned that the whole picture has not been put forward,’ she
added, referring to the drug industry’s wrangle with Asda last year.