McCann Health forms new global consultancy

Simon Holt is president of Consulting at McCann Health, a new global consultancy. 

McCann Health has created a new global consultancy designed to help drugmakers address high-level strategy issues like pricing and market access. The new entity, Consulting at McCann Health, will be led by a former Novartis executive.

Simon Holt, global chief business strategy officer at Interpublic Group's McCann Health and the former global head of market access, health economic outcomes research, and public policy at Novartis, has been named president of the consultancy. It counts as its primary goal providing clients with “more innovative strategic counsel as they shift their approach from ‘creating new molecules' to ‘rewarding outcomes,'” McCann Health global CEO John Cahill said in a news release.

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Consulting at McCann Health plans to offer its pharmaceutical clients a mix of services at a time when drugmakers are under increased pressure to explain their pricing models, demonstrate evidence for their products, and better communicate that evidence to cost-conscious payers. Services will include business strategy, market research, and access work,

“Pricing and market access and how that fits into strategy — that's a real strong point for us,” Holt said.

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The new consultancy, which employs 120 people and has access to 200 more employees within the McCann network, has swallowed up Double Helix, the global consultancy that McCann acquired in 2012. Double Helix will not retain its brand.

With offices in New York, London, and Tokyo, the consultancy's business is largely concentrated in U.S. and European markets. Holt declined to share client names or specifics, but claimed that the consultancy is working with eight of the top 10 pharma companies.

One client tasked Consulting at McCann Health with finding a fresh perspective on its brands, which are struggling to gain traction due to market access issues. Another company, a biotechnology firm, charged the firm with handling its commercial operations so it could in turn focus on R&D. The agency is also educating another client on the touchy subject of pricing a drug once it receives a new indication.

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“I just came out of industry,” Holt said. “The consultants we saw, on the client side, were very linear. There were no fresh perspectives on issues that have been around for ages.”

McCann Health has undergone several organizational changes over the last year. In late 2015 it said that McCann Managed Markets, McCann Echo, McCann Torre Lazur, and McCann Healthcare would add “a McCann Health company” to their names. It also announced plans to create a new agency called the McCann Pharmacy Initiative.