Pernix looks for a sales trifecta from 100 new Zohydro reps

Why buy a controversial pain drug franchise that's up against some hefty competition? Pernix Therapeutics ($PTX) has one word for you: synergies.

With about two-thirds of chronic pain patients also reporting poor or unrefreshing sleep, the New Jersey company sees some serious value in promoting all-hydrocodone pain med Zohydro--which it agreed last week to purchase from Zogenix ($ZGNX) for up to $383 million--alongside its prescription sleep aid Silenor. And it's bringing Zogenix's Zohydro salesforce on board to do just that.

Those 100 reps will be trained on Silenor and will soon begin promoting the therapy, Pernix spokeswoman Marianne Lambertson told FiercePharmaMarketing via email. And because a number of pain specialists also treat migraine, the sales team will also have the opportunity to talk up Pernix' Treximet, the tablets it acquired last May from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

In addition to doubling the field force, the move will also help Pernix score more face time, the company figures. "Because they will have more than one product to discuss, we see the opportunity to improve access and increase time in physician offices overall," Lambertson wrote.

According to Pernix, it's working quickly to get the new folks up to speed. Management has already had several meetings with Zohydro's sales and management team, and planning for a national meeting for the entire group--due to be fully integrated into Pernix over the coming weeks--is underway. Getting the salesforce going quickly would be good for both sides of the deal; Pernix is paying $100 million up front for Zohydro, with the remaining $283.5 million dependent up sales and regulatory milestones.

And they'll need to be on top of their game. Zohydro is already facing off against Purdue Pharma, whose recently approved Hysingla boasts the abuse-deterrent properties that Zohydro's label lacks. While the med won the FDA's favor on its tamper-resistant formulation back in January, it won't be able to list those characteristics on its label until it submits further data--something Zogenix said it would do in the second half of this year. 

Reps won't be on their own, though. Pernix also has initiatives in motion to target healthcare professionals and pharmacists, and it's working with managed care organizations to ensure access, Lambertson said.

- read Pernix's release

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