MCCANN OPENS DEDICATED HEALTH-CARE UNIT

Current Pharmaceutical Clients to Shift to New Agency

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Following the latest agency trend, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, is making a play for the potentially lucrative pharmaceutical segment by creating a stand-alone health-care unit.

McCann HumanCare will expand McCann's

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health-care advertising beyond direct-to-consumer and over-the-counter pharmaceutical advertising. McCann-Erickson's current pharmaceutical and health-care clients, which include Novartis (Lotrel), Glaxo SmithKline (Paxil), Berlex Labs (Mirena, Yasmin, Climara) and Aventis (Allegra), now will be housed within McCann HumanCare.

Managing director
Andrew Schirmer, formerly president and executive creative director of Omnicom Group's Merkely Newman Harty Healthworks, was named HumanCare's managing director effective Aug. 4. He is to lead the unit's efforts to expand beyond DTC and OTC advertising into other health-related areas such as vitamins, nutritionals, health and fitness, medical plans and life insurance.

In February, Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, launched BBDO Health, also based in New York, and hired Anne Devereux, who led Merkeley Newman Harty's Healthworks as president and chief operating office until 2002. Also that month, Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide rejiggered its operations serving health-care clients to create Euro RSCG Life, a global entity.

$2.3 billion industry
All this recent agency activity comes as year-to-year growth for the entire pharmaceutical business fell from 18% in 2001 and 15% in 2000 to 12% last year, according to NDC Health. Total new-product sales in 2002 were just $156 million, well off the $1.2 billion from 2001 and further indication that new blockbuster drugs have been slow to come to market. And, according to the National Institute for Health Care Management, DTC advertising spending for pharmaceuticals dropped 7% last year from $2.5 billion to $2.3 billion.

Even so, the explosion of direct-to-consumer drug advertising had prompted some congressional leaders to try to place curbs on the advertising but without much success.

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