Omnicom buys into five health sites

Look like there be a battle brewing

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Ad and marketing company Omnicom has taken large minority stakes in five health Web companies, laying the groundwork for its drug clients who want to get their products in the faces of doctors and hypochondriacs. The move represents an interesting acceptance of the Internet as a marketing tool and looks set to cause a hell of a stink when consumer groups start objecting to drug companies targeting individuals.

The companies are Healthology, Caresoft (which runs the consumer-oriented site TheDailyApple.com), eMedecine.com, WorldMedicalLeaders.com (aimed at healthcare professionals) and eResearchTechnology, which runs a drug-trial site where companies keep up to date on the latest tests.

This investment is a bit of an unusual move for Omnicom but we reckon a pretty good one. Of course its chief exec said that it owning stakes in these companies wouldn't necessarily mean lots of ads from its drug company clients - but then he had to say that, didn't he?

The thing is that drugs have entered the hideous modern world of brands. Just think of Prozac and Viagra. And so it is sadly inevitable that we will have big names thrown at us for whatever modern (real or perceived) ills crop up. Omnicom has been wise to get in their early (and, we suspect, the drug companies suggested it - they certainly can't take a share themselves, it'd be a PR nightmare). ®

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