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Pfizer to select seven for preferred supplier list

Published on 08/09/05 at 11:38am

Pfizer is to limit the number of healthcare agencies it works with in the UK, as it looks to streamline and scale down its spending on medical communications.

From October this year, Pfizer will introduce a list of seven preferred suppliers, which is likely to be given the bulk of the company's Medical Education and PR work in the UK and Europe.

The list is expected to be made up of agencies from global networks, like WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic although Pfizer refused to confirm which agencies had made it onto the list.

The move to a list of preferred suppliers represents a significant shift in Pfizer's working practices, moving away from product managers having the freedom to choose a preferred agency. Selected agencies will have a number of advantages, including:

  • Non-competitive pitches: in some cases only one agency will be invited to pitch for the business.
  • An increased likelihood - as opposed to those not on the preferred list - of being included on pitch lists for new business.
  • In some cases, the pitch process will be bypassed, with listed agencies appointed directly.

"The product teams will be encouraged to work with preferred suppliers as not only will they benefit from volume discounts and negotiated rates, they can be assured that the preferred suppliers have demonstrated excellence in their delivery, their counsel and in their internal quality standards," a spokesperson for Pfizer said.

The company stressed that while it would encourage its brand managers to use agencies from the preferred suppliers' list it would not be made mandatory.

Pfizer said it was in the process of informing the chosen agencies after undertaking a rigorous selection process, in which it looked at every PR and med ed agency working in healthcare in the UK.

Taking into account, among other things, client and third party references, agency staff retention rates and their policy on administration charges, Pfizer also considered each agency's understanding of the UK's biggest pharmaceutical company's aims and policy of working before finalising its list.

Pfizer's move to a list of preferred and approved suppliers reflects a significant change in its approach to working with healthcare agencies.

"Before there were no guidelines on which agencies teams could work with, how  best to work with them or what to expect from them," added the Pfizer spokesperson.

Pfizer is drawing up a secondary list of 15 'approved' suppliers which, like the preferred list, will be invited to pitch but will be granted fewer benefits. Those agencies which are on neither list will not be invited to pitch for work with Pfizer.

On a global level, Pfizer now has a policy to use five leading healthcare agencies. This streamlined approach - both on a global and UK level - will put a further squeeze on independent agencies, which have struggled to compete with the multinational giants which dominate the sector.

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