The Top 40: Donahoe Purohit Miller

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When Sanofi-Aventis re-assigned its Dermik account to the house of Publicis as part of an agency consolidation, Ahnal Purohit, president and CEO of incumbent firm Donahoe Purohit Miller, braced for leaner times ahead. But in reality, the switch turned out to be the catalyst for new accounts, a more diversified roster and a resulting hike in revenues.

“Staff moved because of the changes and took us with them,” says Purohit. “We [now] have more clients in more therapeutic areas. Relationships are important.”

DPM won eight corporate accounts last year: Abraxis Oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ethicon, INO Therapeutics, Merz Pharmaceuticals, Nektar Therapeutics, PDL BioPharma and Taro Pharmaceuticals USA. It also picked up Ferndale Laboratories' Analpram-HC Singles (for corticosteroid-responsive dermatoses) and Mastisol and Detachol (surgical adhesive and adhesive remover); along with Tercica's Increlex (growth failure).

Staff grew from 70 to 75, and the agency moved to a bigger, more efficient space. “Chicago [agencies] are doing well, so it's even harder [to find talent],” Purohit says. “It takes persistence and patience.”

DPM's first priority is to provide current and new clients with “superb” service. “An agency is nothing if you don't have a good staff. It's a challenge to develop people, keep them and make sure morale is high. We're very blessed right now that everything is working well. Organizations have to settle down when you add clients or staff—new employees have to adapt to your culture and the agency has to adapt to the client's culture. That's what's exciting about this business.”
As DPM grows, Purohit is seeing more opportunities to pitch. And win or lose, the agency always benefits because experience is gained and people are impacted.

DPM often works with mid-size or smaller clients, and Purohit notes that the smaller companies, who are increasingly taking niche products to market themselves, need the broadest capabilities from an agency.

“The workload of product managers is increasing significantly because the pharma industry has fewer and fewer in-house marketing people,” she says. “They need more support. Some need more strategic partners. These are small- and medium-size companies that have decided to keep products and do niche marketing. They are experienced people, but they're just not enough… they may have only one or two people to do it.”

Purohit observes a strong correlation between the size of the client and the type of tasks with which they need help. “It's like a dichotomy,” she says. “Very large companies want agencies to do traditional, limited work; smaller companies need broader, much more experienced work.You need an experienced person to partner with them and run faster to do what they need to do to be successful. There are more clients of that nature than before, and I think midsize agencies can [service them] more efficiently than large agencies.”

This year is shaping up well for DPM. The firm has already added three corporate accounts (XDx, ZLB Behring and Animal Medical Center) and was awarded two acne brands from Medicis Pharmaceutical Group, along with Cephalon's Vivitrol for alcohol dependence.
Purohit sees individualized medicine increasing and effecting change in the way products are marketed and information is communicated. “It's going to be about finding the right patient for the right product at the right time,” she says.

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