Actavis revs up new commercial team for post-Allergan-merger sales race

Before Actavis ($ACT) swooped in to grab Allergan ($AGN) from hostile suitor Valeant ($VRX), analysts said a tie-up between the two could create a marketing superpower. Now, a month after Actavis and Allergan announced their merger agreement, the drugmakers have a plan they think can make that happen.

The combined company will break brand sales and marketing down into three arms, it said on Tuesday. Paul Navarre, Allergan's current president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, will run an international brands segment; William Meury, Actavis' EVP for North American brands, will take over a branded pharma division that includes eye care, neurosciences, women's health and specialty brand portfolios; and Philippe Schaison, Allergan's president of its medical unit, will stay on to fill the same role at the merged pharma, overseeing facial aesthetics, medical dermatology, plastic surgery and SkinMedica.

Philippe Schaison

Together, they'll run commercial ops in more than 100 countries, working to sell a larger, more complex brand stable than Actavis--which until relatively recently was focused on generics--has ever boasted.

"With Paul, Bill and Philippe, we will have the strongest and most dynamic commercial leadership team in the industry, ensuring that we retain the intellectual firepower that has driven Allergan's commercial success, while retaining a laser-like focus on continuing to drive strong growth among our existing portfolio," CEO Brent Saunders said in a statement.

And Allergan, which stressed the importance of its brand R&D over and over throughout Valeant's months-long pursuit, will see its labs vaulted to a special place in the company. Actavis' C. David Nicholson, set to lead brand R&D, will report directly to Saunders, helping ensure the company can "capitalize on Allergan's R&D expertise," the CEO said.

That's something Actavis may need to do if it hopes to hit the revenue goals outlined in its buyout announcement. The Dublin drugmaker is gunning for growth of at least 8% a year, a high target for a company that's about to join the ranks of the traditionally slower-growing Big Pharma.

But plowing investment into leading Allergan seller Botox will help, and that's something Actavis--which has pledged to sock more than $1 billion in brand product development--plans to do. Called a "pipeline in a drug" by industry-watchers, the near-$2 billion seller boasts an ever-expanding list of indications--as well as an ever-expanding market. And analysts see more label expansions on the way for the versatile med, comprising both cosmetic and medical uses; those could help it hit $3 billion in sales by 2017.

- read Actavis' release

Special Reports: Top 10 generics makers by 2012 revenue - Actavis