The Top 75: AgencyRx

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After seeing explosive growth for its first several years, the CDM spin-off is on a “more sustainable growth pattern,” says managing partner and creative director for copy Michael Schreiber.

“The economic realities and those of pharma's changing landscape has slowed our growth, which traditionally has been exponential,” says Schreiber. Still, the five-year-old agency has added some new assignments over the past year, including: abuse-resistant painkiller Embeda from King Pharmaceuticals; boceprevir, a hepatitis C treatment from Schering-Plough; Cette-28 for Teva Women's Health and a new indication on a Novartis drug for pulmonary hypertension.

Most of the agency's work is aimed at healthcare professionals, though AgencyRx does handle some direct-to-patient and relationship marketing assignments as well. Much of its work is in digital, including rep training, non-personal promotion and video.

“We have a film and video group as part of our digital Rx group,” says Schreiber. “We do a lot of in-house films, sales motivation videos. We have a CGI capability.”

The shop boasts authorized Apple iPhone and Google Android app developers, as well. The investment in technological capabilities allows the shop to work more efficiently for clients, says managing partner, director of client services, Laurence Richards.

“What we discovered was what we can take inside the agency and not have to outsource it, so we can have ultimate control over the end creative product,” says Richards. “That's more efficient for us and for the client, especially in the realm of digital.”

Headcount held steady at around 150 for the year, though the agency has invested in staffing up its medical and scientific affairs department. “We have a pretty robust offering there,” says Schreiber. “PharmDs, MDs, PhDs, all providing medical and scientific affairs services to our clients.”

Top clients include: Novartis, for Exelon Patch, Galvus, Enablex, Stalevo, Comtan and Focalin XR; Novartis Oncology, for Tasigna, Glivec, CML Alliance and GIST Alliance, Exjade and Femara; P&G for Enablex; King for Embeda; Schering-Plough for Peginteron and boceprivir; and Teva Women's Health for LoSeasonique, Seasonique and Cette-28.

Journal ads, says Schreiber, make up just 2% or 3% of the shop's business. Are they set to go the way of the dinosaur? “It may, which is why we're investing in things like digital and film and video,” says Schreiber. “Those are the big stages for pharma brands now. It's not going to be in the back pages of JAMA. It's going to be on the convention floor, and it's an experience. It lasts longer than the flip of a page. I think there will be a day when we don't do any print.”

Richards says email blasts “are taking over” as a means of disseminating sales messages, and Ralph Skorge, managing partner, creative director, art says brands with a limited sales force exposure are using e-details to reach customers with limited resources.

“So, where you still have the rep out there detailing, and in the past you would have the journal ad supplementing that, now it's becoming all digital,” says Richards, whether through e-details, email blasts or websites.
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