Roche last week said Lowe and its Lowe Direct and Lowe McAdams Healthcare units will keep the $45 million account. The same day, Roche trucks transported Xenical's new-drug application-the biggest in the company's history-to the Food & Drug Administration in Washington.
Roche hopes for approval in the first half of next year.
SETBACK FOR LIEBER LEVETT
For Lieber, Levett, Koenig, Farese & Babcock, a new agency formed by ex-Lowe executives, Roche's decision is a setback (AA, Oct. 28, et seq.). Roche had awarded Xenical to the Lowe units in mid-October, but when the five top executives left Lowe Direct a week later to form Lieber Levett, Roche began to reconsider.
Concerned about the loss of the five and 10 other staffers, Roche said it wanted to give Lowe a chance to adequately restaff its account.
Meanwhile, Lieber Levett made a pitch for Xenical, and Lowe filed a suit against the breakaway shop alleging theft of confidential materials and unfair competition, among other offenses. The suit was settled out of court Nov. 20.
"Lowe has had a chance to rebuild its staff," said Philippe Burnham, Xenical brand director at Roche. He said Roche feels good about the new people Lowe has hired. A contract with the agency has not yet been signed.
Xenical, whose medical name is orlistat, is one of several products seeking FDA approval for prescription weight-loss treatment.
In April, Wyeth-Ayerst, a division of American Home Products Corp., received prescription approval for Redux, an appetite suppressant analysts think could be one of the fastest-growing prescription brands in history.