$50 Mil. Novartis’ Elidel Set to Name Merkley

NEW YORK Novartis is expected to select Merkley Newman Harty & Partners here to handle creative duties on prescription skin medication Elidel after a roster shop shootout, sources said. Billings are estimated at $50 million.

The other finalists were Interpublic Group’s Deutsch in New York and incumbent The Quantum Group in Parsippany, N.J., which is a division of WPP Group’s CommonHealth, said sources. The agencies declined comment and the East Hanover, N.J.-based client could not immediately be reached.

Merkley, an Omnicom Group shop, already handles two Novartis brands: incontinence drug Enablex and a new arthritis drug that will launch next year.

Quantum launched the first ad campaign for Elidel, which treats eczema, in March. The review did not include media duties, which are handled by WPP’s MindShare in New York.