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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Topin & Associates 2014

Written by: | | Dated: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

205 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2315
Chicago, IL 60601
Telephone: 312-645-0100
Facsimile: 312-645-0120

Quick Facts

Account wins 3
Active business clients 8
Brands by 2013 sales  
Brand-product accounts held 21
Services Mix  
Advertising/marketing 80%
Strategic planning 20%

Client Roster

Abbott Laboratories
Alzheimer’s Association
Foundation Medicine
Mission Pharmacal
Myriad Pharmaceuticals
Studer Group
Terumo Cardiovascular Systems
Teva Neuroscience
Vetter Pharma International

If the business of health care marketing is about building relationships, the agency’s leaders say it’s been a solid year for Topin& Associates. The Chicago-based, independent agency spent 2013 strengthening its long-time client relationships and forming new industry partnerships as it continues to grow.

The Year’s Accomplishments

A number of the agency’s clients tapped Topin for new assignments and brands. TerumoCardiovascular engaged the agency for a corporate communications assignment, and MyriadGenetics added new product and project work to the agency’s current business. And FoundationMedicine, a molecular diagnostics company, is the newest name on Topin’s client roster.

2013 brought a significant amount of new work from MissionPharmacal, Topin’s San Antonio-based client with a broad portfolio of women’s health, pediatric, and prescription nutritional brands. Mission Pharmacal tapped Topin for work on Otic Care for pediatric ear pain, as well as its asthma/allergy prednisolone product. The agency continued to support Binosto, the osteoporosis brand introduced last year through the agency’s launch campaign. Topin also helped its client launch Join the Family, a patient loyalty program for the client’s flagship prenatal vitamin brand CitraNatal.

Topin also helped its long-time client TevaNeuroscience continue to transition from primarily print-based sales collateral to digital sales tools for its Parkinson’s disease brand Azilect. This is a transition many of the agency’s clients are making these days.

“The industry fell in love with the iPad when it was introduced,” says agency President Al Topin. “But it’s our job to make sure technology like this is used in a way that enhances the role of the sales force and is surrounded by those nondigital programs that are critical to brand marketing.”

The end of 2013 brought a slew of new business opportunities the agency’s way, leading to a very busy early 2014 as the agency participated in a number of new of pitches and projects. Betsy Kramer, VP/account director, says the new business activity is up over last year, which is a good sign for both clients and the agency.

“It seems like companies are feeling optimistic about the strides the economy is making,” she says. “So they’re moving ahead with agency searches for new brands, or just new assignments for brands they may not have been spending on.”

Structure And Services

New talent came on board during 2013, adding depth to the agency’s print and digital staff. Wendy Sommer joined as senior project manager, and Miriam Swain took the role of senior digital project manager. The agency also promoted two from their creative department: Erin Schwarz to senior copywriter and Sarah Zabrenski to senior copy editor.

To keep up with the new business demand as well as to capitalize on some key opportunities, Topin& Associates formed additional industry alliances. The agency already has a strategic alliance with Advanced Clinical Concepts, and the two companies continue to work together on agency brands. In 2013, Topin entered a joint venture with HCB Health, the Austin, Texas-based agency specializing in medical device marketing. The two agencies formalized a relationship to pursue new business. Topin brings years of pharmaceutical advertising experience and strategic thinking, while HCB Health offers deep device experience along with greater digital and media resources. Each shop adds depth to the other, and together they offer the strategic and executional resources to deliver multichannel brand programs across all media. It’s a combination ideal for many new business situations, according to Topin.

“Kerry Hilton, president of HCB, and I have known each other for years,” Topin says. “We realized that with a joint venture, we could deliver a broader range of services and thinking, as well as more bandwidth for our clients.”

For joint projects, the agencies work on an integrated approach, building agency teams with staff from both the Chicago and Austin offices.

This year Topin also formed an industry relationship with Kelly D Myers LLC, a data analytics company with a unique expertise: patient centric analytics. Patient centric analytics is a methodology that uses patient data (such as medical and pharmacy claims, lab data, etc) to analyze healthcare markets and better target the providers that treat patients with specific characteristics. The agency sees this as an opportunity to provide a unique targeting tool as brands become more specialized and patient targets more narrowly defined.

“For years, pharma companies have been basing their sales force plans on provider or physician prescribing data,” says TanjaNoren, VP/account director. “Taking a patient-centric approach allows companies to target based on the specific patients being seen in a physician’s practice – which may be much more efficient.”

Future Plans

New business is front and center for Topin& Associates, and if 2013 was any indication, 2014 will be a year filled with presentations, pitches, and new names added to the agency’s client list. The agency plans to look for additional opportunities for the HCB Health joint venture and is looking forward to building new relationships within the world of pharma and medical device marketing.


Some of the relationships the agency values most are with the charitable organizations it supports. This year Topin again included both Katie’s FUNd and the Josselyn Center in its annual holiday giving on behalf of the agency clients. Located in Santa Barbara, Calif., Katie’s FUNd provides developmentally disabled teens and young adults with fun social activities in safe, healthy environments. The Josselyn Center in Northfield, Ill., provides mental health services to the community using a multidisciplinary approach.

Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, an organization that provides hope and support to those touched by pediatric cancer, was chosen for the annual Topin staff holiday giving drive. The agency plans to continue to look for ways to support Bear Necessities throughout the year.

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