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News in brief, July 18, 2007

The latest news in brief   

People news

Cardinal Health appoints new country general manager for UK
Cardinal Health has appointed Mark Pettitt as Country General Manager for the UK and Ireland. After 21 years with Baxter Healthcare, during which he rose from sales representative to head up the company's Medication Delivery business, Mark joined Basingstoke-based Cardinal Health UK as vice-president of Medical Products for UK, Ireland and the Nordic countries in November 2004. With many years of hands-on experience in sales management, marketing and contracts, a diploma in Business Studies and a leadership qualification from IMD in Lausanne, Pettitt is expected to drive a period of sustained further growth for Cardinal Health in the UK. "These are exciting times for Cardinal Health," he observed. "Building on the high reputation of our Alaris and Pyxis brands alongside Martindale pharmaceuticals and a wide portfolio of other medical, laboratory and surgical products, we're uniquely placed to respond to the many changing needs of those on the front line of healthcare in the UK and Ireland. Our main priorities - reducing the risks of hospital acquired-infection and medication error, and improving productivity - coincide with those of our partners in primary and secondary care. And we have such massive global experience in these rucial areas that we can help to implement best practice solutions across a broad spectrum of requirements."

Solvay reveals three new major hires
Solvay Chemicals has appointed Marcie Peters, Cameron Berry and Gary Waller to leading positions at the company's Houston, Texas headquarters, effective 1 July 2007. Peters is appointed to the position of vice-president of supply chain, where she is responsible for customer services and logistics. She joined Solvay in 1995 as marketing analyst for Solvay Polymers and most recently held the position of business director of Soda Ash for Solvay Chemicals. Berry is appointed to the position of business director of Soda Ash, where he is responsible for soda ash sales and marketing. He joined Solvay Minerals in 1995 as a logistics analyst, and he most recently held the position of vice-president of logistics for Solvay Chemicals. Waller was appointed to the position of director of customer services and imported products. He joined Solvay Polymers in 1987 as shipping & distribution superintendent and most recently held the position of director of order to cash for Solvay Chemicals.

Edelman Canada CEO
Edelman Canada has named Freda Colbourne as its new CEO. Colbourne, a 10-year veteran of the agency, succeeds Charles Fremes, who died earlier this year. Colbourne has provided strategic communications counselling to clients such as Pfizer Canada, and worked with the Ontario Government's Ministry of Health and Tourism during the SARS crisis. Before joining Edelman, she held a senior communications position at Molson Breweries, where her duties included overseeing corporate social responsibility initiatives supporting AIDS and breast cancer. John McHugh will replace Colbourne as executive vice president and national practice leader, corporate, financial and public affairs at Edelman Canada. McHugh has 35 years of experience in journalism and communications and has counseled organizations including the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Mental Health Commission, and the Ontario Government, according to Edelman.

Medical education news

New Healthcare agency
A new healthcare communications agency has been established in Santa Ana, California, by Ken Ribotsky, president of Core-Create, which is a healthcare communications and medical education firm headquartered in Somerset, New Jersey. The new agency, Brandkarma, is designed to offer "East Coast savvy" to West Coast clients, particularly companies with smaller budgets "who haven't gotten the attention they deserve from New York mega-agencies," Ribotsky said in a statement. Brandkarma will focus on healthcare branding and will be staffed by professionals who have "a New York mentality" but also a deep familiarity with the West Coast business landscape, he added. The agency, which is already at work on a number of projects for clients in the Los Angeles area, is part of the IN Advertising Network, which also includes Core-Create and the Somerset-based medical education company Alpha & Omega. Along with Ribotsky, who will serve as founder and president, leadership at Brandkarma will include former Core-Create Account Manager Dominic Leung, who will head up client services.

Meetings news

Critical Issues Forum
The Council of Pubic Relations Firms will host its annual Critical Issue's Forum on 8 November at the Princeton Club in New York City. This year's forum is entitled "Who Owns the Consumer?" and will centre on the questions: "At a time of rapid social and technological change, who owns the relationship with the consumer? Who owns the narrative that shapes the brand story?" The session will also "examine the impact of consumer-generated content, word-of-mouth techniques, social network sites and transparency across multiple stakeholders." Other areas of discussion will include the changing role of the chief communications officer, encompassing an examination of "what the CCO owns in relation to marketing and to whom does the CCO and PR function report in this changing environment." The event will take the form of a panel discussion led by Jeffrey Rayport, who is a former Harvard Business School professor and chairman of the digital communications company Marketspace.

PR Industry news

J&J awards assignments
Johnson & Johnson has completed a four-month review by diving its USD 3bn media buying account between a handful of major advertising holding companies, according to a report from Reuters. Interpublic Group's Universal McCann won the US account as well as some duties in Japan, but lost its Australian and Latin American accounts to Omnicom Group's OMD, which will also continue its current media buying duties for J&J in China, the news agency reported. The Aegis Groupís Carat unit was awarded the healthcare giant's European media buying account. J&J has also divided a new function called communications planning, which involves "overall branding plans and a variety of different media, including newer digital media" between units of IPG and WPP Group and the independent firm Naked Communications, Reuters said. The company initiated the account review after it completed its acquisition of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare.

Lilly breast cancer awareness
Television actress Jaclyn Smith, best known for her role as Kelly Garrett on the original Charlie's Angels series, has signed on as the spokeswoman for Lilly's breast cancer awareness programme, The Strength in Knowing. The programme, which is in its second year, is designed to inform women about key breast cancer risk factors, such as age, family history and personal history. The effort is a partnership between Lilly, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health and the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organisation. Smith, who was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, will travel around the country sharing the story of her battle with the disease. She will speak alongside Susan Wysocki, president and CEO of NPWH, and Margaret C Kirk, CEO of Y-ME, at events in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC. A related website,, features an online journal by Smith, a video of the actress, facts about breast cancer risk for the public, a separate section for healthcare professionals, and a "virtual postcard" that visitors can send to friends to alert them to the site and the program of events.

Medical education news

Elsevier launches online training and reference tool
Publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, Elsevier, has released Procedures Consult, an online multimedia training and reference tool to aid physicians, medical residents and students prepare for, perform and test their knowledge of 39 top medical procedures. The new online tool helps physicians visualise and review procedures through a blend of text, video, animation and illustrations. By providing speedy access to customised information on procedures that a physician may not have studied or conducted for a period of time, Procedures Consult helps reduce the potential for medical errors and complications and adds a layer of safety to the medical education adage "See One - Do One - Teach One", which refers to how physicians typically see a procedure demonstrated, perform the procedure and then teach the procedure to a physician colleague. The service allows physicians to see a video of an expert performing a procedure before actually doing it themselves, once or as many times as needed. Physicians typically demonstrate procedures only when patients are available, but Procedures Consult will allow physicians to access procedures 24/7 and view them repeatedly, until they fully understand the procedure. Once students and residents have reviewed the material on Procedures Consult, they can complete an online test to evaluate their knowledge. Physician executives and faculty members can then track the performance of a large population of trainees using online reports.

Financial news

Urigen completes reverse merger with Valentis
US-based specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development of treatments for urological disorders Urigen, has completed its reverse merger into Valentis on 13 July 2007. The new entity plans to change its name to Urigen Pharmaceuticals. Until that time, the company will continue to trade on the Bulletin Board under the Valentis banner (VLTS). William Garner, Urigen's CEO, said: "We are pleased to have established Urigen as a publicly traded specialty pharmaceutical company focusing on urological disorders. Our management team continues to successfully execute our business plan and we look forward to routinely communicating our progress to our shareholders."

JohnstonWells acquires Accent
Denver, Colorado -based JohnstonWells Public Relations has acquired Accent Public Relations, a consumer- and healthcare-focused firm also headquartered in Denver. Accent is owned by Gina Seamans, who worked at JohnstonWells from 1994 to 1998 and founded Accent soon after her departure from the firm. In conjunction with the acquisition, Seamans will become a senior counselor at JohnstonWells, providing support for JohnstonWells' client teams while continuing to manage former Accent PR clients. This is the second acquisition that 35-year-old JohnstonWells has made within the past 12 months: in September 2006, the company bought Center Reach Communications, a small Denver-based firm founded by former Wall & Aiello Public Relations principal Tracy Aiello. JohnstonWells has expertise in healthcare and life sciences, as well as other industries, such as technology and real estate.

Beijing Med-Pharm purchases minority stake in Sunstone
Beijing Med-Pharm (BMP) has reached a definitive agreement with the owners of Sunstone Pharmaceutical to acquire a minority interest. Sunstone is a privately held manufacturer of OTC medicines, with operations in Hebei Province, China. BMP will acquire 49 per cent of the issued share capital of Hong Kong Fly International Health Care Limited, a Hong Kong corporation which holds a 100 per cent equity interest in Sunstone, for USD 32m. BMP will make an initial payment of USD 4.8m within five days of signing the agreement. The conditions of the transaction include the restructuring of the Board of Directors of Sunstone to permit BMP to appoint two of the five members. Because Sunstone is privately owned and the transaction will take place in Hong Kong, Chinese government approval is not required. The transaction is expected to close in Q3 FY07.

Clinical news

Roche and BioCryst advance BCX-4208/R3421 to phase II for psoriasis

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals have advanced of the first phase II study to evaluate BCX-4208/R3421. The clinical trial, led by Roche, is designed to evaluate BCX-4208 in patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. BCX-4208 is a small molecule inhibitor of purine nucleoside phosphorylase (PNP), an enzyme that is essential for the proliferation of activated T cells. BCX- 4208, which is orally dosed, has the potential to address unmet medical needs across a broad spectrum of autoimmune diseases as well as in the area of acute transplant rejection, according to the firms. The phase II study is a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial, comprising three arms, each enrolling 20 patients for a total of 60 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. Two arms will receive active drug in different dosage strengths, while patients in the third arm will receive placebo. Patients in all three arms will be dosed once daily for six weeks. The study will be conducted at multiple centres across the US.

NHS news

Breast cancer targets failing patients, study warns
A government target created to make sure breast cancer patients are diagnosed within two weeks is in practice delaying treatment for a significant number of people, according to a BMJ study. The Two Week Wait Rule, which was introduced by the Department of Health in 1999, states that all patients with suspected breast cancer should be triaged by GPs as an urgent case and seen within fourteen days. Other patients are classified as routine and referred to non-urgent clinics. However, North Bristol NHS Trust doctors discovered that since the rule had been introduced the percentage of patients in the routine group later found to have breast cancer had doubled. Dr Shelley Potter, one of the lead authors, said the increase in cancers diagnosed from the routine population was alarming. Potter added that patients were also potentially being disadvantaged by longer clinic waits and delays in diagnosis as waiting times for routine referrals have increased in the face of increasing service demands from the dramatically increased number of patients referred under the two week rule, over 90 per cent of who had benign disease.

Campaigns news

Orbitsville aids racing champion to launch breast cancer campaign
Thed Björk, the reigning Swedish Touring Car Champion, has launched a high profile national campaign to raise money for breast cancer research. The initiative came after Björk learned that the wife of a fellow race driver had been diagnosed with the disease. Björk quickly gained the support of fellow drivers and the Swedish Touring Car Champion (STCC) organisation. Together with Orbitsville, a Thed Björk sponsor through its Stargaze subsidiary, a series of banner ads were created, as well as print ads and an exclusive pink campaign t-shirt. The ad message encourages people to donate SEK 50 (EUR 5.5) through SMS text messaging. While the campaign had launched previously, its official start was on 14-15 July at the Falkenberg Motorbana racetrack, site of the season['s seventh STCC race. With many in the audience wearing the campaign t-shirts, donation information flashing on the track's monitors, ads in the official race program, a pit fundraiser, and wide spread media coverage Björk's campaign got off to a successful start.

Pharmaceutical news

Evotec expands GMP manufacturing facility
German small molecule drug development and discovery company Evotec has expanded its sterile pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Glasgow, Scotland. The company has doubled its capacity for the aseptic (sterile) GMP manufacture of pharmaceuticals to be used in clinical trials with the new facility being operational with immediate effect. The expansion of the facilities is in response to the demand from its clients for clinical supplies of liquid and lyophilised drug product. The additional facilities will allow Evotec to shorten the lead-time to access its manufacturing capabilities and will save its clients time. This will therefore accelerate the progression of Evotec's clients' drugs into the clinical stage of drug development. Evotec's formulations business is a niche provider of contract pharmaceutical development services for the development of formulations of pharmaceuticals intended for parenteral administration and the manufacture of formulated drugs for use in phase I and phase II clinical trials. Evotec also has dedicated facilities to assist in the development of cytotoxic (cytotstatic) pharmaceuticals.

Organon in cancer treatment jv with Dyax
Akzo Nobel's pharmaceutical unit Organon BioSciences has entered a joint venture with Dyax to discover and develop human therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of auto-immune diseases and cancer. Dyax will use its proprietary phage display technology to identify antibodies directed towards a target identified at Organon's Research Centre in the US. Dyax will receive license fees and research funding, as well as milestone payments and royalties on net sales that may result from Organon's clinical development and commercialisation of these antibodies. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

18th July 2007


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