Arun Sudhaman 24 Feb 2014 // 9:28AM GMT
LONDON—AstraZeneca is reviewing global PR duties for its oncology portfolio, currently handled by Edelman.
The Holmes Report understands that as many as four agencies are vying for the assignment, which is worth approximately £500k in fees.
The move comes as AstraZeneca attempts to revitalise its oncology pipeline after the 2012 arrival of CEO Pascal Soriot. Since then, AstraZeneca has inked a number of deals in the oncology space including a new collaboration with Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.
Existing AstraZeneca cancer drugs include Arimidex, Faslodex and Iressa, but the company is particularly focused on the cancer immunotherapy space, where it lags Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and Merck & Co.
The move towards combinations has seen AstraZeneca develop MEDI4376, a PD-L1 drug that helps the immune system fight cancer cells by disabling a protein that acts as a brake on the body's ability to detect them. Analysts believe that immune system drugs will come to dominate cancer treatments, potentially generating annual sales of $35bn.
In addition, Astra Zeneca has struck a string of deals with biotech companies in the cancer field, including a drug development initative with UK player Immunocore.
Edelman secured the account four years ago, when AstraZeneca opted to consolidate a roster that featured several firms.
AstraZeneca representatives had not responded to request for comment as this story went live.