Novartis is holding a global review of its media planning and buying business, much of which is managed by Starcom.
The Publicis Media agency has handled the account in various markets, including the UK, since it was moved from sister shop Spark Foundry in 2018 as part of a global alignment within the group. Publicis Media declined to comment.
Starcom's predecessor, Starcom Mediavest Group, won the global Novartis business in 2012, ending the pharmaceutical giant's relationship with MEC (now Wavemaker).
It is unclear whether the process will involve reviewing the markets in succession or as one centralised global process.
ID Comms is thought to be managing the process. The marketing consultancy said it was not in a position to respond, but it has worked with Novartis previously. In an article in Campaign in 2017, ID Comms' founders told of how the company's first significant win was Novartis in 2010.
Novartis' creative is handled by different agencies in various markets. VCCP won the UK business in 2018, while McCann Worldgroup Europe won Novartis' Spanish account in the same year.
Swiss-owned Novartis' business is focused on prescription drugs rather than consumer healthcare brands. In 2014, it divested its consumer division in a joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline, named GSK Healthcare. In March 2018, GSK reached an agreement with Novartis to acquire full ownership of that business by buying out the latter's 36.5% stake for £9.2bn.
Campaign approached Novartis for comment, but had not heard back ahead of publication.