Scripts sink for Valeant's troubled female libido drug in wake of rep cuts

Back in April, Valeant reportedly axed the contract sales force it had in place for controversial female libido drug Addyi--and sales have suffered since.

Since the cutbacks, prescriptions have dropped to about 1,000 in May from more than 1,300 in April, Bloomberg reports. The May mark is 35% lower than the peak prescription mark, which Addyi hit in March, according to the news service.

Addyi has been struggling since it rolled out in October. The med’s approval alone sparked fury from critics, thanks to its questionable efficacy and slate of dangerous side effects. And the lofty pricetag Valeant placed on the med didn’t help matters, either.

"Valeant predatorily priced Addyi at $800 a month,” an investor group wrote in a letter to the company this spring, even though maker Sprout--which agreed to sell itself the day after Addyi’s approval--“had established a price point of approximately $400 a month for the drug based on market research. As a result of this predatory pricing, insurance companies refused to cover the drug, which has led to the drug not being affordable for millions of women."

Valeant, though, thought it may be able to kick the drug into gear by letting go the 140 contract reps that had been touting it for 6 months. "While the former team did a great job getting regulatory approval for Addyi, and despite our best efforts with respect to commercialization, sales of Addyi have not met our expectations yet," former CEO J. Michael Pearson told employees in an April memo seen by Bloomberg and Reuters.

And the way the company sees it, the drug is still on the right track--although paving the path for treatment of low sexual desire in women "will not be an overnight process," according to Valeant SVP of women's health Tracy Valorie.

"Our team is moving forward with improvements and enhancements to our sales and marketing plans to better support the business, and we are confident that our new internal sales force we are establishing will give us a better sense of how we can expect that business to perform," she said in a statement.

The problem is, Addyi isn’t the only Valeant product that’s flailing. The company’s dermatology revenues--key to its top-line haul--are down significantly, in part because of a Walgreens distribution pact that’s losing money on some prescriptions, new CEO Joseph Papa told investors recently.

That performance has put more pressure on a few of the company’s latest buys--including Addyi and a couple others that raised eyebrows from industry watchers. Provenge, the laggard cancer vaccine that bankrupted Seattle biotech Dendreon, hasn’t come through for the Canadian drugmaker, and Friday, FDA staffers expressed mixed feelings about brodalumab, the psoriasis candidate Valeant licensed from AstraZeneca after 6 suicides cropped up in clinical trials.

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