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AbbVie said to be planning major salesforce cuts in US

Follows loss of patent protection for TriCor and Niaspan

AbbVie said to be planning major salesforce cuts in US

AbbVie is planning to slash hundreds of sales positions in the US in the wake of generic competition to one of its key cardiovascular products, according to a Bloomberg report.

The news wire said that an individual close to the company had revealed that the cuts would affect both internal and contract sales staff and had been prompted by the imminent start of generic competition to cholesterol-lowering drugs TriCor (fenofibrate) and Niaspan (niacin).

AbbVie, which was hived off from Abbott earlier this year, lost patent protection for TriCor last November and will see generic competition start for Niaspan later in 2013.

Meanwhile, a newer sustained-released version of fenofibrate called Trilipix could lose patent protection in January 2014, with some generic drugmakers suggesting they could even launch as early as July, 2013.

According to AbbVie's 2012 report, combined sales of TriCor and Trilipix totalled $1.1bn, while Niaspan contributed $911m, with all sales derived from the US market.

Collectively, the drugs account for around 11 per cent of AbbVie's total $18bn revenues, which are headed by arthritis blockbuster Humira (adalimumab).

Bloomberg suggests that AbbVie's new strategy focusing on speciality medicines means that it will no longer need to maintain its current level of primary care sales representatives, and the patent expiries mean that the cardiovascular reps will be the first to feel the pinch.

AbbVie's pipeline is short on primary care candidates. It currently has around 20 new drugs in mid- to late-stage development, targeting hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's as well as chronic kidney disease (CKD), though it was forced to halt trials of one of its CKD candidates last October.

If confirmed, AbbVie's plans are yet another blow to beleaguered pharma salesforces, coming on the heels of reports that Lilly is poised to lay off around 30 per cent of its US sales reps.

17th April 2013

From: Sales

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