The Top 60: Vox Medica

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According to principal and CEO Donald Phillips, Vox Medica's goal for 2007 was to focus on talent. “Not only did we bring in incredible talent on the commercial side, but also on the education side,” says Phillips. “We're poised for significant growth with nine new clients. Based on the talent we hired, we're realigning our structure.”

New hires include president George Glatz, who was brought in to run the commercial side; Ross Thomson, chief ideation officer, to drive creative development; Craig Sponseller, MD, SVP and medical strategist; and Kate Childress, executive vice president, public relations group. “We've elevated our creative talent 15-fold in the last few months,” says Glatz. “Ross Thomson is building a first-class creative team.”

In light of the new hires and an evolving marketplace, Vox Medica launched a new brand and logo in 2007, and is rethinking the business structure. “Healthcare decisions are no longer linear—it's a community decision,” says Glatz. “Fifty percent of patients are asking for specific drugs at the doctor's office, and 75% of the time they get it. Payers, providers and patients are much more included in the decision.” Those factors, combined with clients' growing need to reduce fixed costs, caused Vox to realign its business model. “We're looking at the business horizontally,” says Glatz. “We're focusing on what our clients' problems are, and using interdisciplinary teams against them.”

Under the new business alignment, Vox has shifted resources into four main areas and the agency's peer group “provides a second opinion,” and a way for Vox to field-test ideas. According to Glatz, the group involves a branding officer, a social scientist, a community influence analyst, a medical strategist and others. “We've tested the model and it works—it's how we won Cephalon and GlaxoSmithKline,” says Glatz.

Other wins in 2007 include Endo Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inverness Medical Innovations, Reliant Pharmaceuticals, Merck, Millennium Pharmaceuticals and the National Headache Foundation. The agency lost accounts with Teva and Baxter.

Phillips says Vox will continue to focus on its Institute for Continuing Healthcare Education. “Continuing education represents less than 20% of our revenue, but we're putting particular energies in that area,” says Phillips.  New hires at the Institute include Robert Naticchia, vice president, business development; John Ruggiero, MPA, PhD, director, adult learning and outcomes measurement; Ann Clark, PharmD, medical director; and Paul Minter, MS, senior director.

In 2008 and beyond, Glatz says the agency will be focusing on neurology, cardiology, oncology and pain medication and addiction. Phillips adds managed markets and policy issues to that focus. Within the market access group, the agency is “catering to dialogue with clients from a media-neutral point of view—we don't know the answers until we find the solutions,” he says.

According to Phillips, agility is a necessary strength in navigating a diverse and dynamic marketplace successfully. “The marketplace is changing in such a way, in terms of quarterly expectations. We can move quickly to conform to client needs. We're nimble, quick and smart.”
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