Dudnyk's 12% revenue growth in 2011 was driven by the Horsham, PA-headquartered firm's work with specialty brands.
“When you work with companies that have maybe just one product, you rise and fall with them to some degree, but it's very rewarding because you're helping them on many levels,” says CCO Barry Schmader. “You wouldn't get the opportunity in Big Pharma companies that have layers and layers of marketing folks. You feel really involved, and it tends to build stronger relationships.”
More than in any other year, president Frank Powers says FDA delays presented challenges in 2011, particularly on Chelsea Therapeutics and Medtronic Diabetes products.
“For biotech companies trying to get to launch, even a minor setback puts them in danger,” Schmader says.
Powers reports 22 consecutive profitable quarters and notes that the agency won numerous awards and accolades last year, including landing on Inc. magazine's list of fastest-growing privately held US companies.
An AOR win for Medtronic Diabetes in 2011, as well as other opportunities, prompted the opening of an office in Carlsbad, CA, in January 2012.
"It's a target-rich environment,” Powers says. “A lot of personalized medicine and imaging companies are there. We'll be ahead of the curve when pharma and device meet in the arena of personalized medicine.”
Additional 2011 wins included patient and professional AOR for a Chelsea Therapeutics brand for neurogenic orthostatic hypotensive symptoms; AOR for a Carticept orthopedic device launch; and work on Endo Pharmaceuticals' delivery system implant. Based on successful patient AOR work on Cinryze (hereditary angioedema), ViroPharma awarded HCP AOR status for the brand.
Long-standing AOR client Inspire Pharmaceuticals was lost after Merck acquired it. “We worked ourselves right out of a job—Merck saw the income increase and bought the whole thing,” laughs Schmader.
The agency amicably parted ways with project-based client Quest Diagnostics. Labopharm was lost due to promotion cutbacks.
Dudnyk's patient-centric work is increasing, and digital work varies across clients. Powers notes some legacy clients still do 80% print, but new clients tend to want 80% digital.
Headcount was up three to 63 ending 2011, with five people in Carlsbad. Scott Greisler, previously account management director, was named GM of California operations. In Horsham, Laurie Bartolomeo, Tara Walther, and John Kemble were named creative directors. Schmader has been really successful at grooming creative talent, and that's the plan for California.
Though Horsham “isn't a hotbed for young kids,” Powers says growth and industry accolades are driving a steady flow of talent to Dudnyk's doorstep.
New additions last year included Wyeth and Pfizer veteran Drew Desjardins, who joined as SVP, strategic planning and account management; Lynn Paolicelli, RN, who joined as VP, director of digital strategy; and Therese Heimbold, formerly of ViroPharma, who joined as director of brand strategy.
Development over the last year-and-a-half of original educational content, including a blog, videos, and white papers, aimed at biotech and device product managers, has pulled in both prospects and current clients.
“Tweets or retweets of blog posts have driven multiple prospects to the web site, then to the portfolio, and it culminates in a call,” Powers says.
Given some FDA setbacks, Powers expects 7% to 9% growth for 2012.