Amgen puts out welcome mat for Celgene's Otezla reps, but will they join—and then stay?

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Amgen's offer to buy Celgene drug Otezla has sales reps who work on the brand wondering what will come next? (Amgen)

Amgen is ponying up $13.4 billion for Celgene’s psoriasis blockbuster Otezla. But it's not just getting the drug—it's also picking up the 800 to 900 Celgene employees who work on Otezla. And some Otezla sale reps are worried.

Amgen says it looks forward to welcoming everyone who works on Otezla to the Amgen team to “continue their important work” in psoriasis and other immunologic diseases.

“The Otezla team has done a world class job of building and growing Otezla over time. We expect that approximately 800-900 Celgene employees primarily dedicated to Otezla, including sales reps, will transfer to Amgen,” an Amgen spokeperson said via email.

Amgen declined to say how many of the total number of Otezla workers are sales reps, and Celgene referred questions back to Amgen.

RELATED: Amgen, maker of Enbrel, to pick up Celgene's Otezla for $13.4B. Will FTC hit back?

Yet with the final sale months still away, both the Celgene and Amgen rumor mills are working overtime with concerned sales reps speculating about what happens next for them.

Some Celgene sales rep commenters on CafePharma are worried about losing their jobs or their severance packages.

One lamented, “My sense is that Amgen won’t keep us. They have a division calling on Dermatologist with Enbrel. It’s too many reps too much overlap. We are toast!” Another wrote, “My concern is if Amgen keeps us, but then raises our quotas soon after. We can’t get the severance for not meeting numbers.”

Under the Bristol-Myers Squibb acquisition of Celgene, which is the agreement the reps would have been under had the Federal Trade Commission not forced Celgene to sell off Otezla as part of the bigger deal, people whose jobs are eliminated as a result of the merger are set to receive specific benefits. According to documents filed with the SEC, it’s a minimum of six months base pay and a 50% target bonus for full-time and part-time employees not covered by another severance plan.

RELATED: Celgene, say goodbye to Otezla: BMS agrees to sell psoriasis drug to clear $74B merger

However, the Otezla reps are no longer under that plan. Since the new Amgen deal was just announced, detailed provisions such as those are still being determined.

One Amgen board commenter on CafePharma said that it would be a good move by Amgen to take most of the Otezla reps.

“Like any sales force, there are some good, some average and some bad. My sense from interacting with them is that they have many more good and very few bad,” the person wrote.

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