It was a year of transformation and growth at ApotheCom. The Huntsworth Health–owned agency reorganized into three practice areas — medical marketing, scientific communications and publications, and access and outcomes — which reflects the company’s view that healthcare marketing “is headed toward much more of a specialized structure,” according to Elaine Ferguson, who was named global CEO last year. Revenue, in turn, jumped by approximately 10%.
Noting how clients have embraced personalized medicine, Ferguson says that firms have been sluggish to react. “There’s been dilution on the agency side. Everyone does everything, so specialization is getting lost within the comms framework,” she adds. “We wanted to concentrate our expertise both in terms of the three practice areas and across them.”
In the wake of the change, ApotheCom won 12 new accounts, nine from new clients and two for brand portfolios. Ferguson says the “vast majority” are AOR assignments, which represents a shift from 2014. Astellas Oncology was one of the portfolio wins, while Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Baxalta, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, and Novo Nordisk were among the other additions. ApotheCom reports no losses, though one brand it shepherded through its entire lifecycle went off patent.
The Yardley, Pennsylvania–headquartered agency opened a new office in New York last summer (in a space shared with Huntsworth siblings Audacity and Evoke Health Group). The New York office places the agency in a talent hotbed, bringing it closer to area clients and allowing it to more readily assemble multidisciplinary teams with Evoke and Audacity.
Ferguson says ApotheCom’s expertise in using real-world evidence to address key questions from HCPs and payers is helping brands succeed. “Payers are as much a key audience as HCPs from an education and KOL standpoint,” she notes.
“Using real-world evidence to address the needs of those groups is at the heart of our business strategy. We’re also putting a lot of emphasis on understanding the expectations of our audiences: HCPs, payers, and consumers,” Ferguson points out. “It feeds into how we look at tech, for instance, and the application of tech in medical marketing and medical education.”
Along those lines, the firm established an innovation lab at the end of 2015 to start rolling out medical communications and med-ed products.
As a result, it’s no surprise that ApotheCom expanded on the personnel front. Headcount at the end of 2015 was 200; by April the agency had hired 25 additional staffers.
Ryan Taggart was named EVP, global practice lead, medical education. New senior hires included Matt Lewis, EVP, global practice lead scientific comms and publications; Ann Stuchiner, EVP, global practice lead access pathways and outcomes; Rachel Hatfield, EVP, global therapy lead, heading the specialized medicine and rare-diseases practice; and Leslie Taylor, global head of creative and digital.
A significant departure was U.S. president David Paragamian, who left for Razorfish Health in May.