College Hill to promote Abraxis ‘nanoparticle’ drug

pharmafile | December 10, 2008 | News story | Medical Communications Abraxis, College Hill 

Abraxis Bioscience has appointed PR agency College Hill to promote its cancer drug Abraxane in Europe.

The albumin-bound 'nano-particle' chemotherapeutic compound indicated for metastatic breast cancer will receive its first European launch in the UK next week.

The treatment will be up against taxanes such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Taxol (paclitaxel) and Sanofi-Aventis' Taxotere (docetaxel).

Abraxane differs from them by using nanotachnology to re-formulate paclitaxel, which is bound to albumin – a protein that moves nutrients around the body and has limited side effects.

The significance of this is that it does away with the hypersensitivity problems associated with standard paclitaxel, and can be administered to patients more quickly.

The solvents used in taxane-based cancer therapy are linked to serious side effects, which limit the drug's effectiveness.

Patients usually have to take steroids prior to chemotherapy, which can lead to hyperglycaemia, immunosuppression and insomnia.

In one phase III trial of women with metastatic breast cancer who had failed prior combination chemotherapy, Abraxane had a higher response rate than the standard formulation of the drug.

College Hill's life sciences team will point up these differences through its work for Abraxis.

"The work will be very data-led", said the agency's managing partner Sue Charles, who is overseeing the account.

"[The drug] has been in use for three years in the US so there is good information on the patient benefit side," she added.

Abraxane was approved in the US in January 2005 and earned its manufacturers $134 million in its first year.

Development possibilities for the drug include non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian, prostate, adjuvant breast, melanoma, head and neck and upper GI cancers.

It was co-marketed with AstraZeneca but Abraxis Bioscience is currently negotiating to end this arrangement.

This is a big move for the biotech company, which should increase commission through direct sales despite the costs of getting out of the agreement.

In addition to product-based PR and media relations for Abraxane, College Hill will also be handling corporate communications for the manufacturer.

Charles said: "We are extremely pleased to have been chosen to support Abraxis with its European launch of Abraxane.

"We are confident that our expertise in the of area of oncology together with our well established media relations contacts within the UK and Germany will deliver added value to the launch of Abraxane in Europe."

Two of College Hill's senior account directors, Adam Michael and Douglas Pretsell, will lead the account teams in the UK and Germany respectively.

Meanwhile Los Angels-headquartered Abraxis is also setting up its first UK office in Cambridge. The company received EMEA marketing approval for Abraxane earlier this year and, after the UK, the brand is expected to be launched in Germany, France, Spain and Italy in 2009.

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