Merck has brought back consumer marketing guru Len Tacconi to serve as global brand leader for its lead investigational component for obesity, taranabant.
Tacconi, who first joined Merck in 1996 to build its consumer marketing capability, left the company in September, 2006 to become president of Discovery Health Media Enterprises. He returns to a familiar category, having cut his teeth heading North American marketing for Weight Watchers before joining Merck.
In his previous stint with the pharma giant, Tacconi orchestrated successful consumer campaigns for mega-blockbusters like Singulair, Zocor and Vioxx before heading the firm's corporate reputation efforts in the wake of the Vioxx withdrawal, launching Merck's first-ever corporate advertising with the “Where patients come first” campaign in June 2005. Along the way, he also led the company's physician marketing, business technology and publishing functions.
At Discovery, he was charged with the strategic, operational and financial management of the company's health media platform, including the Discovery Health Channel, FitTV, discoveryhealth.com, CME and a video-on-demand service, Discovery Health On-Call. Those duties will now fall to Discovery Health Media general manager/EVP Carole Tomko, who previously served as EVP of Discovery's internal production unit, Discovery Studios.
Taranabant, a cannabinoid-1 (CB-1) receptor inverse agonist in Phase III clinical trials, has a mechanism of action similar to that of Sanofi-Aventis' rimonabant. Sanofi-Aventis withdrew its NDA for the drug in June after an FDA advisory committee recommended against approving it due to concerns over possible psychiatric side effects. Pfizer is also working on a cannabinoid receptor, dubbed CP-945598.