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Pernix lays off another 41 sales staffers as Treximet generics loom

January 8, 2018
Life sciences

It’s been just a year and a half since Pernix Therapeutics cut 23% of its sales force, but the company is downsizing once again.

Friday, the specialty pharma said it had embarked on a plan to shed 41 jobs—or 22% of its workforce—with the majority of the layoffs hitting Pernix’s sales force and commercial team. The New Jersey drugmaker expects to reap cost savings of between $7 million and $8 million in 2018’s first quarter, but it’ll also shell out $1 million on severance payments and other associated costs, it said.

The reason for the job-chopping? An upcoming loss of exclusivity for Treximet, a controversial fixed-dose combo of two generic drugs, approved to treat acute migraine pain. With generics approaching, the company is reorganizing its rep army among 74 territories to focus on hydrocodone painkiller Zohydro ER and insomnia treatment Silenor—assets still protected by their patent shields.

“Zohydro ER is a critical component of our long-term growth strategy, as we possess a strong intellectual property portfolio around this product, which provides for a lengthy exclusivity period,” John Sedor, Pernix Chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Pernix was actually padding its rep tally. Along with 2015 purchase Zohydro—a controversial product in its own right, thanks to its ultra-addictive properties—came 100 reps from deal partner Zogenix. And Pernix put those reps to use copromoting Silenor and talking up Treximet with pain specialists.

But things didn’t go as planned, and In July of 2016, Pernix said it would be cutting down its sales force by 23%, axing 54 positions as part of a sales-wide revamp. It also rejigged its sales territories to nix unnecessary travel and moved to house its neurology and pain sales forces under one management structure.

Things haven’t exactly been easy since then, either, with manufacturing issues hurting Zohydro supply. Last May, Pernix said a production problem had caused an outage of the 20mg, tamper-resistant version of the drug, putting the product on backorder until at least the first quarter of this year.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

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