Valeant Looks to Revive Xifaxan with "Bubble Guts the Sales Rep." Will It Work? | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Now that Valeant’s $10 billion talks to sell its Salix unit to Takeda have reportedly fallen through, the company is taking matters into its own hands with a “significant” GI sales force expansion. But whether that expansion can help get its lagging meds going remains to be seen.


The plan? Rev up growth in the underperforming GI business by adding reps who will focus on potential primary care physician prescribers of IBS-D med Xifaxan and oral opioid-induced constipation med Relistor, Valeant said this week. The way the company sees it, it can reach “a significant majority” of likely Xifaxan and oral Relistor PCPs with the effort, which it will roll out “over the coming weeks.”


As with many key Valeant products, wannabe blockbuster Xifaxan has been struggling lately (read “Xifaxan Sales Down - Will $9.8 M Super Bowl Ad Redeem ‘Bubble Guts’?”; In building a primary care sales force, “our goal ... is to maximize opportunities for Xifaxan and Relistor to help our products reach full potential,” CEO Joseph Papa said in a statement.


It’s a new tack for Valeant, which was just about ready to let those moneymakers change hands until price squabbles scuttled a potential deal with Takeda, which has tried multiple times to acquire them. Now, Valeant CEO Papa is calling the GI franchise a “core asset for future growth”—meaning it may no longer be part of the group of businesses Valeant’s willing to divest in order to pay down its debt load.


Meanwhile, though, Papa has blamed sales force woes for triggering Xifaxan’s poor performance to begin with. In June, the new skipper attributed the product’s slump to “sales force disruption” over the past 12 months (read “Valeant CEO Blames Salesforce, Not Shitty Ads, for Disappointing Xifaxan Sales”;