Company news: Roche, Horizon

Roche's lock on a 12-month Herceptin regimen is holding steady (for now). The New York Times reported Monday that the French National Cancer Institute's look into whether six months on the breast cancer drug worked as well as the standard 12 months of treatment showed that women on the abbreviated regimen had a “28% greater risk of recurrence than those treated for a year.” The Times also reported that a second study showed going beyond 12 months didn't do much in terms of patient outcomes. The net result: it staves off a projected $1 billion loss if six months were to become the global norm, but more studies about alternative time tables remain in the works.

Horizon Pharmaceuticals closed in on its goal to expand its sales force. The Deerfield, Ill, company announced Monday that it has added 70 reps to its sales force to help promote its RA drug Duexis and Rayos (prednisone). Horizon announced in June that it was going to up its sales presence, when it announced a co-promotion Duexis deal with Mallinckrodt.  Chief Commercial Officer Todd Smith told MM&M the Horizon team will add Rayos to its toolkit in 2013. The expansion is the first for the company, which got its first drug approval in 2011 and its second, for Rayos, in July 2012. Smith said the company has taken a unique approach to its sales force, which includes the financial incentive that includes “a more aggressive commission plan than a traditional pharmaceutical bonus structure and a really uncapped commission plan on first time prescription sales.” Smith said the sell is coming less from tech – the force isn't toting tablets – but rather a practice of detailing not just the doctor, but also the entire office staff and pharmacies as well. Horizon's CEO Timothy Walbert said in a statement that the Duexis co-promote – which included the beefing up of Mallinckrodt's rep numbers in August has already paid off, as seen by a 16% bump in Duexis prescriptions. Walbert said the combined Horizon and Mallinckrodt push “will allow us to broaden our reach for Duexis five-fold from 10,000 physicians who write 8% of NSAID prescriptions to 50,000 physicians who write more than 50% of NSAID prescriptions.”