UPDATED: Eager to prove itself, Valeant boosts sales ranks, amps up DTC plans for new launches

Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson

SAN FRANCISCO--For serial dealmaker Valeant, recovering from its failed bid for Allergan--and its target's attacks on its business model--"organic growth" are the buzzwords of the moment. Eager to show the industry it can hack it on its own without buying up other companies, the Canadian pharma last week forecast organic growth of 10% to 12%. But to do that, it'll need help from its new products--meaning a marketing push is in order.

Aiming for a top-line haul reaching between $9.2 billion and $9.3 billion, the company will beef up its field forces in dermatology and contact lenses--two of the company's key areas, CEO J. Michael Pearson told investors. In lenses, Valeant's sales ranks will swell from their current 100 to 120 reps up to 150--and in the hot dermatology field, the increase will be even more substantial, with Valeant expanding from a 150-rep army to more than 300.

And that's not all. The company is planning to up its DTC advertising efforts, in both digital and TV, for acne brand Onexton and others, EVP and Group Chairman Ari Kellen said Tuesday at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference--something Pearson said "has paid off" over the course of last quarter.

Valeant is also looking to build on its launch for topical toenail fungus fighter Jublia, which is "really off to a great start," Kellen said. So far, 20,000 prescribers have written scripts for the product, thanks to Valeant's DTC spending, medical programs, professional education to dermatologists and podiatrists, and more than 150 field reps. And the pharma "will continue to spend as long as the growth trajectory continues and the economic returns justify it," Kellen said.

Valeant CFO Howard Schiller

Valeant hopes all the amped-up marketing activity can help it achieve $500 million-plus for its core launch programs, which include Ultra contact lenses and Luzu antifungal cream, CFO Howard Schiller told presentation watchers at JPMorgan. That'll be a major increase from the $90 million its launch brands raked in over the second half of 2014, according to Pearson, with Jublia bringing in the lion's share with more than $50 million.

It may be an increase Valeant needs if it hopes to find some willing M&A partners. Allergan's public blows to the Quebec drugmaker's ego may have weakened its dealmaking hand, industry watchers have speculated, and few expect the company to mount another hostile bid anytime soon.

That leaves companies that are on board with Valeant's business model as potential pickups, and Pearson wants to see a lot of them this year. "Business development activities will remain the priority for 2015," he told investors.

Special Reports: The most influential people in biopharma today - J. Michael Pearson, Valeant | Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2013 - Valeant/Bausch + Lomb

Editor's note: This story was updated with comments from Schiller and Kellen's presentation at the JPMorgan conference.

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