PARSIPPANY, April 18—WPP Group’s healthcare unit CommonHealth is partnering with European healthcare agency The Shire Hall Group to launch a new specialist communications firm, Shire Hall. It will offer media relations, pre- and post-launch marketing communications, and professional and advocacy relations and will be differentiated from its competition by its integrated approach and its commitment to evaluation, according to managing director Neil McGregor-Paterson.

McGregor-Paterson, who was previously a director and board member at Shire Hall Communications in the U.K., says the firm will look for U.S. domestic business and that it will also look to develop international programming for companies looking beyond the U.S. market. In that vein, it has already started working for one of Schering-Plough’s products, a cholesterol inhibitor. In such cases, he says, “the senior level management for the account will be here, but much of the execution will be handled in Europe.”

The new agency brings a European approach to healthcare to the U.S., says CommonHealth president Matt Geigerich. “Healthcare public relations and medical education are closely linked in Europe, which makes sense given the stakeholders they have in common,” he says. “With Shire Hall, we’ve taken the European model and added promotion, enabling us to work on enhancing outcomes from the individual disciplines and to maximize return on clients’ investment throughout the communications cycle.”

As for evaluation, McGregor-Paterson says that while “a lot of companies talk about evaluation, we have tried and tested methods of measuring campaigns that go beyond column inches to message analysis and reach. We work with the marketing research team at our clients to make sure we are delivering measurable results.”

The Shire Hall Group has an affiliate network of more than 50 companies located in 40 countries throughout the world, with clients including clients include Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Novartis, Servier, Schering Healthcare, Schering-Plough, Takeda and Wyeth Laboratories.