LONDON--GlaxoSmithKline is starting a wide-ranging review of its global communications agency roster, across its three key business units.

The healthcare giant is understood to have kicked-off the process among existing roster agencies earlier this week, with an RFI due to be released within the next fortnight.

The review covers GSK's pharmaceutical, biological and consumer healthcare business units, across European and global markets, excluding North America. GSK works with a number of PR agencies in these areas, representing a PR budget worth millions of dollars.

Last year, the Holmes Report revealed that the company had held an 'agency innovation' review at its London HQ, focusing specifically on its product communications business. It was also reported earlier this year that GSK is reviewing its UK PR roster, following the arrival of new global consumer healthcare head Leslie McGibbon. 

McGibbon's hire is one of a series of internal restructuring moves that have occurred since Phil Thomson was appointed head of global comms at GSK in mid-2010.

“They’ve had a lot of new people into their positions - what tends to happen is that they will look at their agencies after internal re-engineering," said one agency source involved in the review. "There may be some cost efficiencies, but they already have fairly good rates.”

Existing GSK agency partners include Chandler Chicco, Virgo, Ogilvy Healthworld, Huntsworth Health,Tonic Life, Weber Shandwick, and Citigate.

Like other pharmaceutical giants, GSK is anticipating a decline in revenues from the "patent cliff" that sees many blockbuster drugs beginning to face generic competition. 

One of its key rivals, Pfizer, recently commenced a holding group review of its overall marcomms roster, along with a separate pitch for its animal health spin-off.

GSK representatives had not responded to request for comment as this story went live.