Allergan pumps up its sales rep tally amid Viberzi launch, aesthetics push

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders

Allergan ($AGN) CEO Brent Saunders says his company's sales force already delivers more daily meetings with doctors than any other pharma team. But to keep growth coming--and back up a new launch--the company is still adding reps.

The company recently upped its aesthetics headcount by 75, bringing the total to 300 reps, Philippe Schaison, president of Allergan Medical, told investors on the company's Q3 earnings call. In China, the Dublin drugmaker recently invested in its rep army and added positions, too, Saunders said.

Now, Allergan's total tally hovers around 4,000 reps, Bill Meury, the company's EVP of branded pharma, said on the call--but they "operate as if it was 4,500 or 5,000," he said, claiming that they're the industry's "most productive when you look at calls per day."

Of course, all of that could soon be changing. The company is in friendly deal talks with Pfizer ($PFE), the two said last week, and reports say an agreement could be worked out by Thanksgiving. If so, that means job cuts, and sales and marketing is a typical target. Bernstein's Tim Anderson, for one, assumed in a recent deal model that the pharma giant would cut Allergan's SG&A budget by 40%.

In the meantime, though, Allergan's reps are focused on launching Viberzi, the IBS-D drug that won FDA approval in May. The sales force meeting will take place next week, Saunders said, noting that the company is "making a big investment in this launch."

Allergan EVP Bill Meury

And that's one Meury thinks will pay off, considering that the med is "the perfect complement" to Allergan's constipation drug Linzess.

"IBS should be thought about as a continuum with constipation on one end and diarrhea on the other. And because we're able to market two products to the same condition essentially, we're able to talk about it in a more complete way," he said on the call. "And I think it's a competitive advantage."

- read Allergan's Q3 transcript

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