Corbett Believed to Have Upjohn AIDS Assignment

CHICAGO – Healthcare agency Frank J. Corbett here is believed to have won a substantial international assignment from the Upjohn Co. to handle the marketing of one or more of its AIDS drugs it now has under development, it was learned last week.
Although the details are sketchy, it is believed Omnicom Group-subsidiary Corbett won the international assignment without a review. Ranges of how much the assignment could be worth varied mainly because of the uncertainty of the market. But if a successful drug or drugs are launched, observers estimated that an international assignment could be worth more than $15 million.
Corbett officials could not be reached after repeated attempts last week. A spokesperson from Upjohn said he wasn’t aware of any new assignment, and said it wasn’t company policy to comment on agency relationships.
Still more than one source confirmed the agency had won a substantial project from the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based drugmaker.
What the assignment would be remains a mystery. Marketing of AIDS drugs is highly controversial because of the intense demand for a breakthrough product at a price that could exclude high profits.
‘From an ad agency standpoint, there is less of a business opportunity than there is a pr opportunity,’ said one healthcare agency executive. ‘With AIDS therapies, you’re dealing with the government, and very strong interest groups. The issue’s under tremendous scrutiny.’
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