Well-known medical marketing exec Neil Matheson has joined with two other industry vets to launch boutique strategic health consultancy Citrus Health Group.

Backing from investment firm NaviMed Capital has enabled the new organization to build a scientific/medical communications and market access capability. As foundational companies, the group acquired Prescott Medical Communications Group late last year, along with Citrus Scientific and Citrus Market Access. Terms of the acquisitions were not released.

“We all share a passion for innovation, optimal engagement and effective communication of science to support the value proposition and commercialization of new treatments,” said Matheson, group CEO, in a statement.

Co-founders include Fishawack Health vet John “Zeke” Czekanski, who assumed the role of group COO, and longtime Citrus managing partner Scott Roberts, president of the market access shop. The two started Citrus in 2019. Mary Prescott, who started her eponymous company in 2001, is set to retire later this year.

Combined, the company will do $18 million in revenue this year, split roughly 50-50 between Prescott and the two Citrus businesses, with a total staff count of 85 employees, Matheson told MM+M.

Matheson, who formally joined Citrus Jan. 1 after consulting for the group, spent eight years as the U.S.-based CEO of Huntsworth’s biggest and fastest-growing unit, Huntsworth Health. He left Huntsworth in 2017, after which he founded E4 Health Group and then became chairman of behavioral-change agency Atlantis Health, a role which Matheson said he plans to continue serving.

Citrus’ value proposition, he explained, involves integrating medical affairs and medcomms, two in-house roles which are typically siloed. “In many pharma companies, you see medical affairs doing its thing and market access doing its thing and not a great deal of collaboration,” Matheson said, adding that he’s targeting small-to-midsize clients commercializing their first, second or third product.

The three firms now under the Citrus umbrella will retain their branding and additional acquisitions are planned to enhance the service offering. Frank Galella, formerly of E4 and Huntsworth Health, has joined as CFO. He has been charged with building out a central services team.

“Our focus is on professional healthcare communications services businesses that are committed to improving patient outcomes through trusted partnerships with their clients,” said Bijan Salehizadeh, NaviMed managing director, in the statement.

Matheson said he foresees expanding Citrus’ market access capability, perhaps via a health economics and/or a pricing, access and reimbursement group. 

NaviMed isn’t always on the acquiring side. In 2021, the firm sold U.S. medical comms platform The CM Group to Open Health.

Healthcare marketing agencies have gone on a medcomms and market access buying spree the last few years. Previous examples include Fingerpaint’s 2020 acquisition of market-access advisory 1798 Consultants, since rebranded, followed the next year by the addition of medcomms maven MedThink. 2021 saw Lumanity’s M&A deal for market-access agency Cyan Health, following the 2020 buyouts of HEOR consultancy BresMed and med affairs shop Cello Health.

The Fingerpaint and Lumanity deals were fueled by private equity partners Knox Lane and Arsenal Capital, respectively. Other PE-backed shops signaling a desire to make similar platform plays this year include Lucid Group and Boundless LIfe Sciences Group.

This story has been updated.