Synergy brings 200 representatives on full time as Trulance lands FDA nod in new market

Trulance just won a new indication for Synergy Pharmaceuticals, and the company is adding staff to take on some earlier entrants in IBS-C. (Synergy)

Synergy has a new indication for its gastrointestinal med Trulance, and to celebrate, it’s bringing its contract sales force on full time.

Two hundred reps from Publicis Touchpoint will join the New York-based company in February, CEO Troy Hamilton said in an interview at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference earlier this month. “There’s a lot of excitement about that, bringing in these folks who have done such a great job,” he said.

Along with a new employer, the reps will get a new assignment, too. After Thursday’s FDA approval for Trulance in irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C), they’ll be talking up the new nod as they continue to promote Trulance’s benefits in chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC), the therapy’s original indication.

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With the label update, Trulance will be going after meds such as Takeda’s Amitiza and Allergan’s Linzess—foes familiar from their battles in the CIC arena. Barclays analysts predicted last year that Linzess would remain “the dominant player given its wide adoption, overall safety, and first mover advantage”; the Allergan contender won its IBS-C approval back in August 2012.

Synergy, though, is sporting an experienced rep army that knows a thing or two about the GI competition. Ninety-five percent of the Publicis force came from other companies, and the majority of them moved over from GI competitors, including Allergan, Shire and Valeant’s Salix unit, Hamilton said. “I think it was absolutely critical” to the success of Trulance’s first launch, he added.

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And this time around, Synergy will be relying on the same rep relationships it built as part of the CIC rollout. “The overlap between CIC and IBS-C is rather large ... strategically, they’re very similar customers,” Hamilton said. “This allows us to have both indications to kind of complete the picture.”

Synergy’s sales force may well get some DTC backup, too. The drugmaker is looking for a way to incorporate its unbranded “Poop Troop” emoji keyboard—part of an educational CIC campaign that debuted this summer to what Hamilton says was “fantastic feedback”—in IBS-C. “We haven’t made a final decision,” he said.