March 15, 2009
Porter Novelli adds Pitts as partner
Porter Novelli has named Peter Pitts partner and director of global healthcare. Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner for external relations, and most recently SVP, director for global health affairs at public relations firm Manning Selvage & Lee, will manage Porter Novelli's healthcare team in the New York office.
“Peter is a renowned thought leader in the healthcare field and a formidable talent who will guide our continued growth and innovation in this vitally important practice area,” said Winskie in a statement.
Speaking on the role of public relations in pharmaceutical marketing, Pitts said Porter Novelli is open to looking at PR from a broader perspective—not just pharma but also functional foods, life sciences and other areas. “Many firms look at PR in a very 20th century way,” said Pitts. “That's not an appropriate way to do things any more.”
“As DTC continues to be more restrictive, companies will spend less [on traditional marketing],” said Pitts. That will facilitate a renewed emphasis on communication—and there are many new mechanisms available, noted Pitts. “Pharmaceutical companies need to rediscover the fact that they are working in healthcare, rather than just marketing. If you can reconnect clients with the healthcare business first, then you'll sell product.”
In addition, Pitts will continue in his position as co-founder and president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.
Pitts said the Obama administration's FDA selections—Margaret Hamburg as commissioner and Joshua Sharfstein as principal deputy commissioner—were on target.
“[Hamburg] has a deep science background, which perfectly positions her to take on the food and tobacco elements of the FDA—which will be spun out of the agency. Sharfstein is more politically savvy, and has a background in drugs and devices,” he explained. “He's a great candidate for that side of the operations.”