Spending on Account Expected to Top $30 Million

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK ( -- With the majority of Americans overweight, and obesity a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, GlaxoSmithKline is selecting Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide to handle Avandia, a drug used to treat the sometimes fatal disease, according to one executive with knowledge of the matter.

Spending to increase
The 5-year-old Avandia received $30 million in measured media last year, down from $48 million in 2002 and a peak of $56 million in 2001, according to TNS' Media Intelligence/CMR. Spending this year, however, is expected to ramp up, in part because diabetes is the country's seventh-leading cause of death and is rising due to increasing obesity. More than 14 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, which can lead to blindness, kidney failure, amputations and, occasionally, death.

The New York office of BBDO won the account in a review that included another New York agency, Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, as well as the incumbent, CommonHealth's Quantum Group of Parsippany, N.J. The agencies either could not be reached or declined to comment.

The diabetes drug market, including type 1 and type 2 medications, is estimated at $24 billion by NDC Health, Atlanta.

Avandia competes with Bristol Myers-Squibb's Glucophage and Aventis' Amaryl and comes in pill form, unlike drugs to treat juvenile onset, or type 1, diabetes. Glaxo's other type 2 diabetes drug was approved by the Food & Drug Administration in August.

About 64% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2000. They are prone to type 2 diabetes in part because they have excessive sugar in their blood.

This is BBDO's third pharmaceutical account since December. Late last year, the New York office picked up Dey L.P's Epipen, which is designed to treat shock caused by severe allergic reactions and is worth an estimated $10 million in billings. In March, Schering-Plough tapped it for its Nasonex allergy medicine spray, worth about $14 million in billings.

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Rich Thomaselli contributed to this report.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported WPP Groups Young & Rubicam, New York, participated in the review.

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