Revenue increased 15% to $31.5 million
“It’s going to be another growth year for us and another opportunity to expand into new areas with Vitruvius Science”
“Companies that come up with good solutions to diseases with unmet needs are going to be successful. We will eventually have fewer products — specialty biotech products that fulfill needs better — and they are going to last a lot longer”
At times, RevHealth managing partner Bruce Epstein makes building a thriving business sound like child’s play. “We are having a lot of fun with this,” he says. “We are probably about five times larger than I ever imagined.”
It’s not child’s play, and RevHealth’s success is far from accidental. Revenue in 2016 leapt about 15% to $31.5 million, staff size edged up from 102 to 115, and the Morristown, New Jersey-based agency added five new clients without losing any. Epstein doesn’t name new clients and brands, but he does share that 75% to 85% of growth in 2016 came from existing clients.
RevHealth’s roster includes Novartis, Merck, Allergen, Sun, and Exeltis. Of the new clients, he says, “Many are one or two-product biotech companies launching their first or second brands. They tend to be more high-tech than companies have been.”
Epstein believes the firm’s strong clinical backbone is a major draw for these companies. “We have more than 20 medical professionals on staff,” he explains. “They are in scientific writing, copywriting, account management, and strategic roles, so they have jobs within the agency where they are working with the same companies every day.”
Epstein estimates around 75% of the firm’s work is digital. While RevHealth has a team of 15 people specifically dedicated to digital projects, he says all staff have been trained in the digital environment and that digital health experience is a must-have for every new hire. “We didn’t want to be a diverse group that did all of these things separately, which is where we came from,” he says. “Now we don’t really care whether it’s a digital project or not, because our people are trained in both.”
The firm has a history of embracing new technology. Previously among the first agencies to experiment with Google Glass and Oculus Rift, RevHealth is currently exploring opportunities with IBM’s Watson. While Epstein admits that every piece of new technology comes with a short life span, he feels it’s important to stay on top of innovation. “We won’t drive the new technologies, but we will use them,” he says.
Epstein has also placed a high priority on data and analytics. “Pharma companies are spending less, not more,” he says. “You need to be able to show the stuff you are doing actually works.”
In a move to separate pure-play medical education from promotional med ed, which RevHealth handles under its First Amendment banner, the agency spun off a dedicated medical-affairs agency, Vitruvius Science, last year. Beyond its utility as a firewall, Epstein says the new brand is poised to maximize opportunities from what he predicts will be a surge in medical-affairs business. “We are going to see a lot more money spent there in pre-launch,” he explains. “Much of the stuff that used to be on the promotional side is going to move to the affairs side.”
Before long, the two brands will have separate premises, too. Epstein is currently scouting a second RevHealth location. A second office will also allow the RevHealth mothership to take on potential conflict work in the future.