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Merck & Co. named Barry Blau & Partners, Wilton, Conn., direct marketing agency of record for its direct-to-consumer business. The estimated $50 million account encompasses all of Merck's brands. OgilvyOne and Wunderman Cato Johnson, both New York, previously handled.

Searle & Co tapped Draft Worldwide, Chicago, to handle direct-to-consumer ads for two prescription drugs. Ambien, used to combat sleep disorders, and Arthrotec, an arthritis drug, were previously handled by Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York. "They decided they needed an agency with a higher concentration of direct marketing capabilities in that area," a Draft spokeswoman said.

Snyder Communications, Bethesda, Md., says second-quarter net income grew 78% to $15.3 million, excluding non-recurring costs in 1997. The integrated marketing company's diluted earnings per share rose 60% to 24 cents, excluding non-recurring costs, and revenue climbed 30% to $168 million. Snyder's holdings include Arnold Communications, Boston, and Barry Blau & Partners, Wilton, Conn. Separately, Brann Ltd., Snyder's U.K.-based direct marketing agency, will create an Internet marketing channel for Midlands Electricity.

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