Pernix cuts 50-plus reps in sales-wide reorg

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It wasn’t all that long ago that Pernix Therapeutics ($PTX) was doubling its sales force with the addition of 100 reps from deal partner Zogenix ($ZGNX). Now, though, its ranks are shrinking.

The New Jersey-based company Thursday announced it would be paring down its rep army by 23%, chopping 54 positions--primarily from its neurology team--as part of a sales-wide revamp. It’ll also be reorganizing its sales territories to cut down on unnecessary travel and consolidating its neurology and pain sales forces under one management structure, it said.

Six admin staffers will also lose their jobs as part of the reorganization, Pernix said.

“It became clear that there were significant opportunities to optimize Pernix’s field force to more efficiently cover the most productive physicians. The actions announced today are designed to improve productivity, instill a more results-based culture and enable Pernix to more effectively serve our customers,” Chairman and interim CEO John Sedor said in a statement.

Overall, Pernix expects the changes to yield cost savings of about $10 million per year, starting in this year’s third quarter. The specialty company will take a one-time hit of $2 million, also in Q3, as it puts its plan into action.

It was only just over a year ago that Pernix was beefing up its sales force. Late last April, it closed deal worth up to $383 million for Zogenix’s controversial all-hydrocodone pain med Zohydro, folding in 100 reps as part of the transaction. As a spokeswoman told FiercePharmaMarketing when the companies inked their pact, those 100 reps were to be trained on Pernix’s prescription sleep aid Silenor, which they could talk up in tandem. There would also be opportunities to discuss Treximet, a migraine med acquired from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), with pain specialists, she said.

And even after that, the company considered its 200-rep tally “relatively small … compared with the number of sales representatives of most other pharmaceutical companies,” Pernix wrote in its 10-K filing.

Now, it’ll be up to its reps to do more with less--but there will be incentives on the table. The Morristown-based drugmaker is switching up its compensation plan to reward field staff who make more calls on targeted docs, it said.

- read Pernix's release

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