Allergan plots DTC, label expansions for chin-fat buster Kybella

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Kybella, Allergan’s ($AGN) med for excess chin fat, is already in the middle of a successful launch. But the company is by no means stopping there, execs said Tuesday.

So far, the Dublin drugmaker has trained more than 4,000 providers to inject the drug--in other words, nearly half the product’s potential user base, commercial chief Bill Meury told investors on the company’s Q1 conference call. And of those trainees, 3,000 have already placed orders for the fat-fighter.

That momentum was important for the company’s aesthetics unit, which saw sales increase by 7% for the quarter. Without Allergan’s medical dermatology portfolio, whose performance suffered on a one-time item, aesthetics made an even bigger jump, with sales leaping 16%.

But Allergan knows it’s up to its own marketing ranks to lay “the groundwork in the creation and development of this new market for injectables,” Meury said--and so it plans to keep the push going strong. Later this year, the company will roll out a DTC campaign for Kybella, which will follow up on marketing activities that have included a partnership with Khloé Kardashian.

And Allergan’s R&D team will be doing its part behind the scenes to grow the market, too, Meury told investors. It’s working on exploring “a number of new indications”--something it’s already proven it can do successfully with fellow portfolio product Botox, a blockbuster dubbed a “pipeline in a drug.”

Allergan has been predicting big things for the treatment ever since shelling out $2.1 billion for maker Kythera last October--despite consensus estimates of $400 million in sales. "They obviously have much higher expectations than we do" for Kybella, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to clients last year.

And Allergan will also be looking for its current roster of go-getters to keep sales expanding--especially now that its $160 billion merger with Pfizer ($PFE) is kaput. CEO Brent Saunders said on the call that the company wouldn’t be relying on any other “transformational” deals for growth, instead working to beef up sales for its current products and supplementing them with smaller, tuck-in acquisitions.

- see the call transcript

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