Publicis Wins $236 Million Pharmaceutical Account

Sanofi-Synthelabo Consolidates Global Creative Ad Work

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DETROIT ( -- Sanofi-Synthelabo SA today consolidated its $236 million global creative account with agency holding company Publicis Groupe, the
pharmaceutical company said in a statement.

Publicis beat out rival holding companies Havas and WPP Group for the assignment, which does not include media buying. Sanofi said it will honor existing agreements with agencies until Jan. 1, when a three-year contract with Publicis begins. Sanofi's accounts, including media buying, had been scattered among various agencies and holding companies.

Interpublic Group of Cos., Grey Global Group and Omnicom Group were eliminated from the review last month.

Healthcare Communications Group
Sanofi Synthelabo, headquartered in Paris, couldn't be reached for comment. In a statement, the marketer said, "The goal of this worldwide reference is to improve services, to reinforce coherence of both image and messages, and to optimize cost." A spokeswoman for Paris-based Publicis said the account will be handled by its Healthcare Communications Group. Roger Haupt, chairman-CEO of the unit, was in Paris and could not be reached for comment.

Though Sanofi markets several products, the prescription sleeping medication Ambien was the true prize in the review, with $54.8 million in U.S. spending last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Euro RSCB, Abelson-Taylor
Ambien is currently handled by Havas' Euro RSCB MVBMS Partners, New York, for the direct-to-consumer portion of the account, and by independent healthcare shop Abelson-Taylor, Chicago, for professional marketing.

Ambien is the most widely prescribed sleep aid in the U.S. According to IMS Health, Ambien is expected to rake in sales of $1.3 billion in 2003, accounting for nearly all of the estimated $1.5 billion in prescription sleep medication sales last year. The drug is set to face stiff competition, as Sepracor's sleep aid Estorra is close to Food and Drug Administration approval.

Sanofi-Synthelabo also markets Plavix, for the prevention of a second heart attack; the anti-thrombosis drug Arixtra; and the anti-cancer drug Eloxatin.

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