Ashfield and Huntsworth Join Forces to Launch Inizio


Private-equity-funded conglomerate will offer life sciences commercialization services

The multi-year movements of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), a major private equity firm, have reached something of a climax at the end of June, as the company announced the formation of Inizio, “a strategic partner to health and life science companies throughout the life cycle of their drug products.” Well, sort of; it doesn’t do drug development or manufacturing, but does do a lot of the communications-related consulting, advising and advertising, from its pharma clients and to patients, providers and payers. Inizio says it comprises over 10,000 employees, operating in 35 countries. An industry-related source counts 40 distinct company logos under the Inizio umbrella, all or most of which will continue to operate with those identities—good luck figuring out who will answer the phone!

CD&R started this process, arguably, with the acquisition of Huntsworth, a London-based healthcare communication company, in 2020 for about $690 million. A year later, it acquired UDG Healthcare, based in Ireland, for $3.9 billion. UDG did many pharma-related activities, but the key part brought into Inizio is Ashfield Health, another multinational communications and advisory company to pharma. Huntsworth and Ashfield, combined, represent the bulk of Inizio, but interestingly, both companies have been active acquirers of other services businesses until quite recently. 

Now, the newly formed Inizio will have five business units: 

Inizio Advisory, offering consulting including licensing, product launches, pricing and market access;

Inizio Medical, for communications, medical affairs and real-world evidence, among other services;

Inizio MarComms, for branding, media and marketing; a leading company brand here is Evoke;

Inizio Engage, for “live, hybrid, and digital channels for HCPs, payers and patients;”

Inizio Biotech, for services specific to biologics and genetic technologies development and commercialization.

This conglomerate, although seemingly unwieldy, fits a well-established pattern among agencies and communications services for life sciences—many distinct company brands brought under one corporate umbrella, with the intent that the firm can be a one-stop shop for the needs of life sciences companies. More so than some other conglomerates, Inizio will have a solid offering in commercialization services for pharma. 

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