MERCK DEFENDS GARDASIL
Merck is pushing back against repetative shots aimed at its HPV vaccine Gardasil, which has become a political football in the Republican presidential primary race.
The New Jersey-based drug maker circulated a lengthy statement and fact sheet Sept. 13 after Rep. Michele Bachmann suggested in national TV appearances that Gardasil, typically administered to teenage girls, can cause mental retardation.
“The facts about Gardasil are clear,” Merck said in a statement, tying the drug to prevention of cervical cancer. “The efficacy and safety of Gardasil was established in clinical trials in thousands of patients.”
Bachmann in a Sept. 13 debate on CNN said a woman approached her crying to say her daughter “suffered mental retardation as a result” of an HPV vaccine. “There are very dangerous consequences,” Bachmann said, before repeating the allegation on NBC’s “The Today Show” on Sept. 14.
The Minnesota Congresswoman has sought to leverage the vaccine against front-runner and Texas governor, Rick Perry, who mandated HPV vaccines for young women in his state. He also took donations from Merck and his former chief of staff lobbies for the company.
Edelman and Cohn & Wolfe/GCI have worked PR for Merck’s Gardasil business since its approval in 2006.
KETCHUM LANDS AUSTRALIA
Ketchum has landed Tourism Australia’s PR account for the Americas, following an RFP review.
Fleishman-Hillard was the three-year incumbent.
Ketchum’s Los Angeles office locked up a three-year contract which started on Sept. 9 to guide PR programs covering the U.S., Canada and Latin America.
Tourism Australia’s VP of the Americas, Daryl Hudson, said the Omnicom unit showed a solid understanding of the business as well as “the future of public relations,” adding a desire to capitalize on the digital realm. He said F-H did a “great job” over the past three years, including the rollout of its current campaign, “There’s Nothing Like Australia,” and playing a key role in Oprah’s PR blockbuster visit last year.
Ketchum’s three-year pact has a year-long option.
MSL’S HUGLEY TO WEBER SHANDWICK
Allyson Hugley, senior VP of MSLGroup’s insight creation unit, has move to Weber Shandwick as executive VP of its measurement and analytics practice.
In a 14-year PR career, Hugley has counseled Partnership for a Drug Free America, GE Medical Systems, Philip Morris Youth Smoking Prevention and AARP.
Before working at the Publicis Groupe shop, Hugley was research manager at Scholastic Inc., publisher of children’s books.
Hugley serves as vice chairman of the North American chapter of the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications.