Five things for pharma marketers to know: Wednesday, September 10

Auxilium slashes headcount by 30%
Auxilium slashes headcount by 30%

Auxilium Pharmaceuticals announced today it will reduce its headcount by approximately 30%, or by 190 jobs, and will consolidate its three sales forces into two in an effort to reduce costs and "drive earnings growths and build shareholder value." As the Associated Press reports this morning, the drugmaker was facing sluggish sales of testosterone replacement gel Testim, whose revenue fell 52% in the second quarter and is the company's best-selling product. The Chesterbrook, PA, drugmaker expects to walk away with $20 million in savings from these efforts. MM&M is tracking this story.

Apparently, media mavens enjoy a side of digital-health insight while reading up about cable TV. Klick Health's Digital Rx blog was nominated by MediaPost as a finalist for the news site's OMMA, or Member's Choice, award in the area of "Web Site Excellence," Klick wrote last week. The other two finalists are HBO properties—the blogs "Real Time with Bill Maher" and "Making of Game of Thrones." Celebrating its underdog status, the agency distributed a graphic depicting its director of digital insights, Brad Einarsen, as David vs. the HBO Goliaths. Voting for the category ends September 30.

An FDA advisory panel voted against recommending approval for an Actavis-backed blood-pressure pill, Bloomberg reported. The pill combines Actavis's Bystolic (nebivolol) and Novartis's Diovan (valsartan). The panel voted 6 to 4 against recommending the treatment for approval, saying the drug combo does not provide a "clinically meaningful benefit" over the highest dose of either treatment alone. The FDA, which doesn't have to follow the advice of the panel, is slated to decide on the drug by December 24th.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finds strong support for Congressional action against tax inversions. Fifty-nine percent of registered voters said they believe Congress should "penalize and discourage" companies from inverting, while 32% said companies "have a duty to their shareholders to lower costs and grow their business.” Abbott/AbbVie, Salix and Auxilium are among drugmakers that have recently purchased companies abroad and redomicilied their headquarters outside of the US, moves which could save them millions on taxes. Politico reported yesterday that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said a crackdown on tax inversions was "in the very near future."

MedCityNews reported yesterday that the FDA has released its first-ever “Purple Book,” a list of all FDA-licensed biologics—as well as biosimilars that can be used in lieu of them. The "Purple Book" is meant to be the biosimilar version of the "Orange Book," which is the FDA's list of approved generics and generic makers. FDA law blog notes that the FDA is required to publish the "Orange Book" under the Hatch-Waxman amendments, but the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act required no such list be published for biologics/biosimilars. FDA's latest step may signal that the agency views these drugs with growing importance.


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