NEW YORK—Hill & Knowlton USA has hired Paul Oestreicher, most recently head of the healthcare practice at De Vries Public Relations, to lead its U.S. health and pharmaceuticals practice. He will report to U.S. chairman MaryLee Sachs and serve on the U.S. executive committee.
The healthcare practice at Hill & Knowlton has experienced high turnover at the senior level in recent years. The U.S. healthcare leadership has been vacant for more than a year. Paul McDade, who led the global healthcare practice, stepped down from that position at the end of March and has yet to be replaced.
“Our health and pharma practice will benefit greatly from Paul’s unique insights and experiences,” says Sachs. “He brings perspectives not only from the client-side of preclinical and clinical science, but also as a topflight counselor to countless health care companies on positioning their companies and products. He is a formidable asset to our firm beyond health care given a substantial track record that traverses corporate communications, consumer marketing and public affairs consulting.”
Oestreicher was one of the early architects of direct to patient communications, and has launched or repositioned 40 health care products, including gastrointestinal, metabolic, cardiovascular, central nervous system and oncology, as well as a diverse array of consumer health and diagnostic products.
He began his career as a post-doctoral fellow in the gastrointestinal pharmacology group at Wyeth Laboratories where he investigated animal models of inflammatory bowel disease, and then went to work for Hoffmann-LaRoche as clinical project coordinator in the clinical research and development department. He then moved the agency side as senior vice president at Medicus PR in New York and then as general manager, Edelman Healthcare in Chicago.
He later joined Genaissance Pharmaceuticals as vice president of strategic marketing and then became vice president of communications for North America at Sanofi-Synthelabo before being named managing director of the healthcare practice at DeVries.