Magazine article Marketing

PR LEAGUE TABLES: Healthcare Adapts to a Global Outlook - Health Specialists Are Adjusting to Sector Changes

Magazine article Marketing

PR LEAGUE TABLES: Healthcare Adapts to a Global Outlook - Health Specialists Are Adjusting to Sector Changes

Article excerpt

The healthcare industry is relatively immune to the economic cycle. People still get ill and need treatment, whatever's happening on the world's stock markets.

But it's an industry that has changed a lot in the past few years. Pharmaceutical companies have merged and become more global in their outlook. Fewer new drugs are being launched on the global market - 69 in 1997 and just 52 last year, of which 14 were reformulations.

At the same time, communicating with the general public and not just medical professionals has become a greater priority. That includes major health education programmes.

All of these trends have had an impact on healthcare PR. The fact that there are fewer new drugs, for example, creates a need to give existing products more support.

And when a new drug is close to approval, greater effort is put into pre-launch publicity.

'We find the business has changed dramatically,' says Edelman's chief executive, John Mahony. 'There are now distinct sectors. Each has huge opportunities for growth, and London is seen as the hub for pan-European and international campaigns.'

Demand for PR has grown, but global pharmaceutical giants have tended to consolidate the number of agencies they work with, and to show a greater interest in international capability and in breadth of services.

This has tended to favour multi-skilled networks, at the expense of the small, independent specialists. Among the top 20, only HCC De Facto, Munro & Forster, and Sante are UK-owned independents.

Entries for this year's survey reveal expenditure of at least pounds 62.5m on healthcare PR in 2001, up 13.5% on the pounds 55m in last year's report.

The figures can only be a guide, but the true increase may well be greater because this year's total excludes Medical Action Communications, an agency with an income of pounds 10m in 2000.

Shire Health Group and Chandler Chicco feature in the tables of fastest-growing agencies on page 27. WPP bought Shire Health, known until last month as Shire Hall, some three years ago. The name change is intended to communicate what the organisation does to an international audience, says chief executive Gloria Gibbons. …

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