Now that former shareholders of Sprout Pharmaceuticals, maker of controversial female libido pill Addyi, have the company back in their hands, they’ve reinstalled a familiar face at the helm.
Cindy Eckert, who went by Cindy Whitehead during her last stint as CEO, is once again in the company’s top spot, Fortune reported. She vacated that position after Valeant bought Sprout back in 2015, a deal the serial buyer announced just one day after Eckert and co. snagged a third-try FDA approval for Addyi.
This time, she’ll be overseeing the launch of the drug herself—and the rollout will look very different than Valeant’s did. For one, Sprout will use a telehealth model to sell the therapy; doctors will be able to diagnose patients and prescribe the drug through the web, Bloomberg reported.
Sprout will also sell the drug for $400, half the price Valeant slapped on it not long before the company was derailed by allegations related to specialty pharmacy Philidor. Those ultimately resulted in multibillion-dollar kickback charges against executives from both companies.
In fact, the way Eckert sees it, turmoil at Valeant prevented the drugmaker from ever really launching the product at all.
“The notion that it was launched is a false notion. It was theoretically in the supply chain, but for a woman to have gotten this drug in the last two years was like winning the Powerball,” she told Fortune.
Sprout’s former shareholders didn’t much like the way Valeant handled Addyi’s market intro, either. They sued the embattled pharma back in 2016, pointing to “Valeant's operational ineptitude and breach of its obligations under the merger agreement.”
Ultimately, Valeant—which shelled out $1 billion when it bought Sprout—returned the company to them in exchange for 6% royalties on Addyi sales, and it threw in $25 million loan to start up operations, too.
Meanwhile, Eckert is already eyeing new markets for Addyi. For starters, it plans to launch the treatment in Canada by the end of the year. Other marketing efforts, such as a new website, are in the works, too, Fortune reported.