Billings for Boniva Could Reach $40 Million

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DETROIT ( -- Roche and GlaxoSmithKline are poised to select Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Consumer Healthcare, New York, to handle its co-marketed osteoporosis drug Boniva, executives involved in the review said.

Merck has top brand
The executives said the pharmaceutical companies picked Saatchi over WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, after both agencies made final pitches Feb. 20. Executives said the account was worth $25 million to $40 million, as Roche and GlaxoSmithKline are prepared to push Boniva into a market dominated by Merck's Fosamax.

Merck spent $53 million in measured media on Fosamax through the first 11 months of last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Roche, which handled the review, did not return several phone calls. Saatchi & Saatchi's Tom Lom, president of its Consumer Healthcare division, referred calls to Roche.

The review
Eliminated from the review earlier last week were Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann HumanCare and Havas' Euro RSCG Becker Life, both New York. Roche and GlaxoSmithKline initially contacted 12 agencies before inviting the final four to compete for the business.

A daily dose of Boniva was approved last year by the Food and Drug Administration, though it has not yet launched. The drug makers are hoping a monthly dose will also be approved by the FDA.