NEW YORK — Porter Novelli has elevated two of its long-term healthcare practitioners to lead its global health business, replacing Paul George who left in January to take on a full-time role leading health for parent Omnicom PR Group.  

Maura Bergen (pictured, left), previously the EVP of US pharma, is now Porter Novelli's health sector lead based in New York, while Lisa O’Sullivan (pictured, right) takes on health growth from London. The duo, who have been longterm healthcare PR practitioners at the Omnicom agency, have also added several new hires to the firm's US healthcare team.

Joining Porter Novelli’s Washington DC office as EVP, Health, is Margaret Long who has more than 25 years of experience assisting fortune 500 companies develop and implement corporate strategy designed to enhance reputation and move business forward. Long serves on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety, and was previously with Willow Pointe Consulting Group and Astellas US LLC.

There are also three SVP hires. At Porter Novelli's Denver office, Kirsten Thomas brings over a decade of healthcare communications experience across PR agencies including The Ruth Group and GCI Health, where she served both pharmaceutical as well as biotech clients.

In Vermont, Kristen McBride arrives from GCI Health to oversee the firm's GSK vaccine portfolio. And, in Massachusetts, Caitlin Hunt joins from MSL, where she led account teams and managed a team of writers and editors.

The appointments come at a crucial time for the pharma and healthcare industries, which are facing an increased share of responsibility beyond the pandemic, to be good citizens and drive more sustainable impact across their manufacturing and supply chains.

“As a result of the pandemic, the evolving acceptance that patients now recognize pharma companies as brands themselves with increased responsibilities to society means that physicians must educate and equip patients and their families with knowledge to support improved decision making,” said O’Sullivan. “Being able to democratize knowledge to empower and enrich patient decisions and experiences with treatment and care will be vital.”

That, added Bergen, will require improve used of data and analytics to better understand customers and other key stakeholders, including governments and regulators, on such areas as ESG targets and SDG goals.

“Pharma will need stronger customer partnership and centricity to activate and impact critical challenges within a specific disease sector. It is in this tension, where the exciting opportunity for alignment and a new contract can be drawn for pharma and its customers. We see data and insights as our way of developing purpose-driven approaches that have an impact not just for patients, but also for the business,” added Bergen.