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High Level Moves in the Medical and Pharmaceutical Communications Agency Market

Date: 05 February 2018

2017 is proving to be a dynamic year for the medical communications market. We are seeing a significant number of agencies restructuring, a lot of movement across senior management positions and several promising new players joining the industry.

From high-level movements to mergers and acquisitions, these changes in the market all indicate that now is an excellent time to start prospecting for a new position in this sector, particularly for those at a senior level.

Here, we present an overview of some of the most significant changes to the industry over the last few months that are likely to have a substantial impact on recruitment in this sector…

  1. Mergers are on the rise

    We’ve seen a large number of agencies joining forces to give themselves a wider service offering. WPP is set to merge Ogilvy CommonHealth, ghg, Sudler and CMI into WPP Health & Wellness. Ogilvy CommonHealth, ghg and Sudler are all in the top USA healthcare agencies from a revenue perspective. The four agencies involved in the merger generated $415.5 million in 2015.

    WPP isn’t the first medical communications agency to go through a reorganization of this ilk and these changes follow Omnicom Group’s reorganization of its 15 healthcare agencies last year. These agencies unified under the Omnicom Health Group brand – which later saw LLNS and Corbett merge to form TBWA/WorldHealth.[1]

  2. Existing companies evolving with  new tactics

    Companies are rebranding to order to reposition themselves in a changing market. The alliance of agencies formerly known as Indigenus, has been rebranded to The Bloc Partners – a nod to the name of one of the group’s founding partners.[2] While Kansas-based Intouch Solutions and Italian outfit Healthware International have formed a joint venture aimed at clients looking to reinvigorate their marketing strategy on a global level.[3]

  3. New players are emerging

    New agencies are popping up created by senior figures in the industry. A new healthcare agency called Splice has been set up in San Francisco by former Giant execs Paul Hagopian, Joshua McCasland, Kevin Stokes, and Jonathan Peischl. Agencies are also exploring new opportunities in the market and an empathy-driven agency called Essentially, which hopes to help clients better communicate with their patients, has been set up.[4]

  4. Promotions on the rise in senior management

As well as an increasing number of mergers in the sector, several significant promotions have occurred at Publicis Health including the advancement of Alexandra von Plato, Janet Winkler, and Matt McNally. Von Plato has been made the group president across the North America area. These changes come two months after the agency’s rebrand from Publicis Healthcare Communications Group to Publicis Health.[5] 

There’s a lot of movement and advancement going on across the whole industry, with Lars Fruergaard promoted to president and CEO of Novo Nordisk. Vivek Kundra has joined Outcome Health having been appointed EVP of Provider Solutions.[6] McCann Health has appointed Mark Archer and James Avallone to newly created MD roles in London and New York. GlaxoSmithKline also made a significant appointment to its senior management, with Luke Miels appointed president of global pharmaceuticals.[7]

Budgets are often set with the coming of the new year, so to a certain extent this movement is due to budgets for the year ahead. But it also represents a time of significant change and potential for the pharma industry and the specialist communications agencies that help promote it.

What does this mean for candidates?

Such rapid movement at the upper echelons of these healthcare communications firms means there’s a significant amount of instability in the market. Instability is not necessarily negative and times of innovation often create movement in an industry, too.

Well-informed candidates can use this opportunity to their advantage, especially those working at a senior level. Candidates with experience in a range of therapeutic areas such as oncology, gastrointestinal and Cardiovascular are likely to be particularly sought-after. Equally, those with experience of successful product launches or managing large teams will be in a strong position when it comes to pursuing new roles.

Negotiating the market can be difficult for candidates, who may struggle to distinguish between firms going through a growth phase and agencies that are experience a period of uncertainty. Working with an expert Medical Communications recruitment partner, such as EPM Scientific, can help you better navigate the market and secure your next step.

If you’re working in the medical communications industry and are looking to advance your career or if you’re hiring for a senior Medical Communications  role and searching for an experienced recruitment partner, contact EPM Scientific today.