Industry Briefs January 2015

Cannes Lions Health Chooses Pharma Jury President


The Jury President of the 2015 Cannes Lions Health, to be held this year at the Palais des Festivals, in Cannes, France on June 19 and 20, will be Rob Rogers, Co-CEO the Americas and Global Creative Director, according to an announcement from Sudler & Hennessey. Lions Health is a global annual awards event for creative excellence in two categories: Pharma and Health & Wellness communications, which is judged by international industry professionals.

Rogers will lead the 2015 Pharma jury, judging communication campaigns for healthcare professionals and non-healthcare professionals. Rogers said in a statement, “This festival plays a unique role in both elevating and celebrating the role of creative, and promises to develop powerful interactions in all spheres of the healthcare constituency. Joined by a group of talented jurors, I will continue hoisting the flag and use this significant event to shine a powerful light on work that pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved in healthcare communication.”

Lions Health celebrates the power of creativity in healthcare marketing and communications and honors the world’s best work that reflects unique perspectives and ways of thinking. While recognizing the industry’s intricacies and the regulatory framework of healthcare marketing, the Lions Health Awards set a new standard for creative excellence and celebrate only the very best.

Andrew Spurgeon, Executive Creative Director, Langland, will preside as a jury co-president over the Health & Wellness jury, judging consumer products and education & services campaigns.

Merck Acquires OncoEthix in Oncology Market Push

At a cost of up to $375 million, pharma giant Merck bought the Swiss-based OncoEthix, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a biotechnology company specializing in oncology, OncoEthix will help Merck to up its R&D growth in oncology.

Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President of Global Clinical Development, Merck, said in a statement, “Oncology is a priority area of focus for Merck and the acquisition of OncoEthix supports our strategy to prioritize the development of innovative molecules with the potential to improve the treatment of advanced cancers.” Merck now gains OTX015, a bromodomain inhibitor for the treatment of advanced solid tumors—now in Phase 1b studies.

Lucentis Controversy Continues

Quite a bit of controversy surrounds the promotion of the Genentech drug, Lucentis, a medication used for the treatment of wet macular degeneration in the elderly. The core of the controversy involves the ethics of not only the company, but also the ophthalmologists who were paid to endorse the product. Over a five-month period in 2013, 20 doctors reportedly earned on average $8,500 to $37,000 for promoting the product.

Lucentis was introduced in 2006 at a cost of $2,000 per dose. Meanwhile Genentech’s Avastin, which is approved for cancer, only costs $50 a dose and has proven to be just as effective as a treatment option for wet macular degeneration. Since medical trials have demonstrated that both Avastin and Lucentis are effective treatments for the disease, questions have been raised as to whether the drug choice a doctor makes to treat the ailment is in the best interest of the patient or the physician.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Cuts 1,000 Jobs

Bristol-Myers Squibb has cut nearly 1,000 jobs, according to China Daily—mostly sales representatives—as the company continues to adjust to the changing market conditions and the clampdown on pharmaceutical company corruption in China. The strategic move was made in an effort to become more agile and customer focused, according to the company, and will enable a faster response to the needs of the market. The cuts allow the company to shift focus to newer models aligned with marketing.

Avanir Acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical


Avanir Pharmaceutical was recently acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., for approximately $3.5 billion. The deal was unanimously approved by the board of directors and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015. Avanir will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary of Otsuka America, Inc., and the acquisition will allow renewed efforts to enhance the development and commercialization of treatments for CNS-related disorders.

President and Representative Director of Otsuka, Taro Iwamoto said in a statement, “As we bring together Otsuka’s experience and business track record in the area of mental illness with Avanir’s strengths in neurologic diseases, we believe that we can evolve into a truly global CNS pharmaceutical company.”

Agency Heads Inducted into Medical Advertising Hall of Fame

The 2015 inductees into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame are Dr. James Barnum and Francis Gace. Dr. Barnum’s career began at the J. Walter Thompson Company, where he became Vice President and President of the J.W.T. Affiliated Companies. After a successful 10 years there, Dr. Barnum founded Barnum Communications in 1975, which, through his innovative approach, has since become a top 10 healthcare advertising agency.

Francis Gace, of South Africa, began his successful career working on Burroughs Welcome products for a small, independent agency in Johannesburg. Gace went on to become the director of Advertising and Marketing for the company that is now known as Sanofi, and his award-winning, South-African campaigns were globally successful. He eventually returned to the agency side, and in 1987, Gace co-founded Lewis & Gace, a successful firm with a reputation for innovation. Gace was also a pioneer in the work he did for Nicorette and Seldane.

Precision for Medicine Launches New Business Units

Since it was formed in 2012, Precision for Medicine, Inc. has supported next-generation approaches to drug development and commercialization. To further support these efforts the company recently launched a new strategic business unit, called Precision for Value, and an adjacent global life sciences consulting firm, called Precision Advisors, that will focus on the demonstration of product value.

“Throughout our history, we have strived to be an invaluable partner in guiding strategy, securing access and driving market adoption for innovative medical products,” Co-President and Chief Commercial Officer Dan Renick said in a statement. “We’re building on that success by integrating critical new capabilities to improve efficiency and effectiveness in achieving commercial excellence for our clients.”


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