French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis is reviewing its global media planning and buying, including digital chores, the client has confirmed.
Estimated worldwide spending on the account is $450 million.
In the U.S., the company spent $210 million in measured media, excluding digital, in 2009, down 15 percent from $245 million in '08, according to Nielsen.
The incumbent is Publicis Groupe's Zenith Optimedia. The shop declined to comment on whether it would defend, but a client rep said ZO would participate.
It wasn't immediately clear which other agencies were participating in the review, although one source said it was "very early in the process," and that the client was still compiling a list of candidates. The Sanofi-Aventis rep would not identify any other potential contenders.
The competition is being managed out of the client's Paris headquarters.
Among the client's many prescription brands are Plavix, used to prevent blood clots, and insulin brand Lantus. The firm's consumer healthcare division markets Maalox, and its animal healthcare unit distributes the Frontline and Heartgard product lines. Sanofi-Aventis posted global sales of about $42 billion in 2009.
This story updates an earlier item with client confirmation and additional details.