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Executive Summary

UPJOHN, SEARLE BEGIN "Rx PARTNERS" COLLABORATION to carry to the public the pharmaceutical industry's message about drug products' cost effectiveness and health care reform. Rx Partners is expected to include four manufacturers by the end of the week of March 15. The initiative involves making company executives available for public appearances whenever possible to explain the industry perspective on issues such as pricing, marketing, profitability and research and development. Searle Chairman Sheldon Gilgore's scheduled March 16 appearance on the network television program CBS This Morning apparently will mark the collaboration's first effort to highlight a company executive in the media. Rx Partners is being assisted by the Washington, D.C. consulting firm Powell & Tate and its parent company Cassidy & Associates in promoting industry officials to the media, seeking appropriate public forums for their participation and preparing them for presentations before microphones and cameras. In an arrangement unrelated to Rx Partners, Merck Chairman Roy Vagelos was scheduled to appear March 14 on the ABC television network's Sunday morning news program This Week with David Brinkley. Merck reportedly is one of about five of the largest pharmaceutical companies considering an agreement under which each would spend millions of dollars over the next several years on an advertising and public relations campaign. The others are said to be Glaxo, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. The potential downside to a media/advertising blitz is the opportunity it gives industry critics to compare the expense of such a campaign to the cost to the industry of lowering pharmaceutical prices.

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