The Top 75: Purohit Navigation

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Though 2009 revenue was down slightly, Purohit Navigation president and CEO Ahnal Purohit says all divisions are growing this year. Digital is up significantly, with business increasing 150% in the first four months of 2010 compared to all of 2009.

“While the pharmaceutical landscape continued to twist and turn…we've done just what we offer clients—creative navigation of an unpredictable terrain,” Purohit says. “The recession and healthcare policy have impacted pharma so much. Everything slowed down. Budgets were cut. It affects all of us. Recovery is seemingly taking place. Clients are acting with a little more certainty this year.”

Last year was the first full year of the agency's rebranding, and Purohit is proud to report that brand recognition is high. She's also pleased that the agency won more awards last year than ever before in its nearly 25-year history.
Purohit believes the recession added “another layer of complexity” to pharma industry challenges, which include intensifying competition, spiraling developmental costs, staggering pipelines, increasing regulatory barriers and decreasing revenues. Purohit Navigation specializes in small- to midsized specialty brands, and many clients are asking for strategic help and integrated programs that deliver high ROI. Digital continues to be a critical, and Purohit notes that web-based tactics are increasingly providing supplemental support to sales forces.  

Headcount is up, and hiring digital talent is a priority. Twelve accounts were won last year, including a rebrand and relaunch of Baxter Healthcare's Hylenex (an alternative to pediatric IV rehydration). Work expanded with Promius Pharma to include the launch Promiseb Topical Cream (for seborrheic dermatitis) and with Bioniche Pharma on a number of products, including RIMSO-50, Sotalol, and Enlon/Enlon Plus. The agency also won the launch of Ferndale Laboratories' Analpram E Kit (for anorectal pain and discomfort) and created an award-winning campaign for HERmark, a breast cancer assay from Monogram Biosciences (won in 2008). Work on Monogram's Trofile (HIV), continued, with reach of the “Trofile Profile” campaign expanding to 35 countries last year.

Purohit sees a trend toward “significantly more customized and targeted tactics,” noting that digital presents enormous messaging opportunities. She notes diagnostic companies are playing an increasing role in identifying the right treatments for the right patients at the right time.

She also thinks mergers and acquisitions will continue as big pharma looks to make up for slender pipelines. “Large pharma companies tend to work with networks because they think it's more cost effective,” Purohit says. “[Networks aren't necessarily] efficient, more creative, better or cost effective. We have to…help big pharma understand that the midsized specialty brands they're acquiring can be served by independent agencies like ours.”

Purohit also sees crossover among pharma and generic companies becoming more common. For example, she says generic company Dr. Reddy's owns agency client Promius Pharma, a branded specialty company. She also notes Indian and Chinese generic companies are becoming more aggressive in acquiring branded companies. “It's interesting how everyone is shifting…and blurring,” she says. “The marketplace is obviously changing. It's going to affect agencies in terms of what we do and how we manage.”

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