Merkley Joins Abbott Labs Roster

NEW YORK Merkley + Partners has joined Abbott Laboratories’ roster of agencies with responsibility for creative duties on three anti-cholesterol drugs, sources said.

Sources identified the drugs as Simcor, Niaspan and Trilipix. Merkley is said to have landed the business after a review. Annual account billings are estimated at $70 million.

It was not immediately clear who the incumbent was. The Omnicom Group agency did not return calls. Abbott declined to comment, saying through a representative that “it’s not Abbott’s practice to comment on our marketing strategies, vendors or potential vendors.”

Past major media spending behind the drugs has been modest. The Nielsen Co. recorded no media spending for Simcor, Niaspan and Trilipix last year and about $6 million for Trilipix in the first four months of 2009. That figure does not include online spending.

Merkley’s experience in the cholesterol drug space is significant, having handled creative duties on Pfizer’s Lipitor from 2000 until 2005. Lipitor, with global sales of $12.4 billion last year, is the top selling prescription drug in the pharmaceutical industry.

Other Abbott Labs roster shops include Omnicom’s Harrison & Star and Interpublic Group units McCann Healthcare and Draftfcb. The company’s other major drugs include Humira (arthritis), Kaleta (HIV, AIDS) and Depakote (bipolar disorder).