In 2019, ApotheCom made two big moves designed to fuel upcoming growth: It established ScienceAffinity in the agency’s then-new Boston office and aligned tightly with fellow Huntsworth Health-owned firm Creativ-Ceutical. Those decisions paid off in 2020, to the tune of jumps in revenue (from $57.5 million in 2019 to $64 million) and staff size (from 345 to 358). In the process, it added 49 new assignments, including work from Regeneron, Zogenix, Pear Therapeutics and Travere Therapeutics, to its mix.
To hear global CEO Elaine Ferguson tell it, ScienceAffinity drove some of ApotheCom’s best thinking during the past year, including the Expose HCM campaign and a refresh of Allergan’s Botox. The practice is led by Vineet Thapar, who joined as its president in 2020.
“ScienceAffinity is focused on areas where there is a complex evidence space and a diverse audience, where you need to properly communicate a consistent message that makes sense for many audience types,” Ferguson explains. “A rare disease with complex and poorly understood symptoms and awareness plays really well to ScienceAffinity — but so does something like Botox, with a hugely complex evidence base and lots of competitors.”
On the other hand, Creativ-Ceutical played a leading role in the development of GenEra, ApotheCom’s new gene therapy practice.
“As we looked across the industry and trends, we saw that bringing a gene therapy to market is very different from bringing a small molecule to market,” Ferguson says. “Regulatory approval, pricing, market access, reimbursement and how you educate — not just in terms of what treatment consists of, but in terms of outcomes and consequences — are all vastly different.”
Ferguson says clients — and would-be clients — are pleased with the new offering. “You see them on Zoom and as you introduce the GenEra team and explain their expertise and what they have worked on, and you can physically see their shoulders relax,” she continues. “Suddenly they are talking to people who talk their language and who understand their world.” She credits the new practice with landing four new clients and reports that another 20 are on the cusp of signing.
ApotheCom’s other new practice was Biotech Equity Creators, which counts as its mission going beyond scientific expertise and helping biotech firms secure funding, manage investor relations and expand their global presence. Ferguson describes its approach as part of a broader “doubling down on our consulting capability, bringing in regulatory strategy as well as medical affairs, commercialization consultancy and building market access capability.”
Ferguson reports that ApotheCom has started off 2021 on a strong note, with revenue sharply up over Q1 2020. One potential focus for the remaining months of the year: an expansion of the company’s AI capabilities.
“What if we can predict some of the tradeoffs in a clinical trial or an evidence-planning phase where you have to meet the needs of regulators and the people who will pay for the drug — what does that look like?” she asks. “How can you predict reimbursement within certain parameters?” Look for ApotheCom to provide answers to those questions — and many others.
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The idea I wish I had…
Tomorrow Starts Tonight by IKEA. It’s beautiful storytelling that translates directly back to the brand — very refreshing, given the number of health campaigns that seem more focused on shock value for awards than delivering for the customer and telling a story. The rekindling of positive memories from both childhood and nights out with friends, set against the stunning London backdrop in the context of COVID lockdown, makes this campaign especially relevant and memorable. — Elaine Ferguson